The book of James has long been a favorite of mine. I credit that to my dad who, when I was in 6th grade and had finished all the AWANA books that our church offered, encouraged me to memorize it – from start to finish. And I did. I remember that day when I started with Chapter 1, verse 1, and recited all the verse through Chapter 5, verse 20. It took a lot longer than the typical “memory verse” time.
Another reason I love the book is because it’s so encouraging for those that are suffering. Although my life has been very blessed, we all suffer in big or small ways. Last year when my heart broke in ways that I never anticipated, the call to persevere was very dear to me. Knowing that the trials we were going through did not catch God by surprise and that He was using them to bring about His purposes was sometimes the motivation we needed to, as my mom would say “keep on plugging.” Sometimes the reason you keep putting one foot in front of the other is because you know that God is leading.
Yet, sometimes I focused so much on getting through the trials, that I neglected to remember how James begins his discourse on them. He writes “Count it all joy…” According to J.P Louw and E.A. Nida’s “Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament“, the word joy used here is often expressed idiomatically. So rather than saying the word “joy” the author uses a phrase to describe what joy is. What we read as “joy” here could be read as “my heart is dancing.” Which seems incongruous when you consider the subject matter. When we are going through pain and suffering, it’s often our hearts that are the heaviest. Even physical pain can seem inconsequential in comparison to discouraged hearts. How can we expect our heart to dance when the cries of pain are overwhelming?
However, when I thought of my nieces I began to understand a little bit of how this might be. Like most young children, there are a lot of things that they don’t know how to do, but one thing that they do know how to do is to dance. It’s not overly rhythmic and they don’t know any moves, but if there’s dancing to be done, they are willing participants. They mimic those that are already dancing, or they make up their own routine. They don’t even need music. They dance simply because they can, and they do so without consideration for all the reasons they should not.
In similar ways, our hearts can be dancing even when trials surround us. We can dance because while the noise of our pain may be loud, the music of our Father’s love is louder still. We dance because we know that the last song will be one of triumph as our King comes to claim His bride. And we dance because we know that this trial that we are experiencing will not last forever, but it will be used for His purpose.
So we teach our hearts to dance, without music and without knowing the moves. We do so without consideration for all they reasons we shouldn’t, because we know that as believers the Reason we should is greater than any temporary condition of pain.
Now it’s your turn – How do you teach your heart to dance in the midst of painful circumstances?