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“We can find joy in unexpected places.”

So says Sarah Young in her devotional book, Jesus Always. But finding joy requires effort. Difficult circumstances, crises, and traumas catapult us into fear or despair, even rage. God knows we have troubles, and He allows them to clobber us for a reason. A good reason.

Search for the good. 

We can’t depend on our natural reactions to bad news. Broken hip? “Why me?” we cry.

A soldier’s brain injury in battle? “Give us a miracle,” we beg.

Death of a child? The sorrow is too deep for words.

If we only focus on our terrible circumstance, we’ll see nothing but the negatives in this broken world. Instead, God encourages us to seek the possible beauty within every hardship.



Like the crystals in a geode, lovely, amazing surprises may be waiting for us.




Depend on God. 

He gives us supernatural eyes so we can see beyond what’s obvious to discover hidden treasures. Trials crack us open. Our plain, even ugly, protective shells hide dazzling glory. Let God hammer us until we give way. And when our treasure is revealed, we can live joyously.

Our Choice.

The world is broken and sinful, but with joy in the depths of our souls, we can choose to radiate it to everyone we meet. Every day. Every hour. Every moment.

Jesus told His disciples to follow Him (Matthew 4:19) , but the Twelve could not bear to follow Him to the end. Only one stood at the cross and watched Him surrender to torture and death. Yet, Jesus knew the Joy that was coming.

Because He sacrificed Himself for every person who ever lived and who would ever live, He gifted us with eternity in heaven. He had to go through the agony. If He hadn’t overcome death, if He hadn’t forgiven His tormentors, there would be no salvation for His beloved Creation. 

When we follow Jesus, we can’t be surprised when troubles arrive on our doorstep.

But we can continue to follow Him. The Twelve Apostles finally understood the cost of obedience after Jesus ascended to heaven, and they followed Him with renewed vigor. No matter what the Jewish leaders did to them, no matter the brutal treatment from Rome, they doggedly followed their Savior.

We can also live out James 1:2-4, joyful in trials and joyful when faith is tested. Jesus will polish those jagged, sparkling crystals of faith and perfect us in our journey toward eternity.

*Featured photo credit to Flickr by Texas Tongs.






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