“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

Growing up, we all heard people tell us counsel during difficult times like Worrying won’t do you any good, Let’s consider the positive things, Things won’t always be this bad, Don’t give up, or Positivity is a choice. The Bible says “Consider it pure joy” to face trials and tribulations.

There haven’t been many times I have felt a large dose of joy when difficulties have come. I also admit I haven’t talked with anyone going through a painful experience and told them to consider it pure joy they are facing their problem.

But trials and troubles do change us, and often for the better. We tend to become more patient and understanding of others when we ourselves face challenges. Trials often change the trajectory of our lives, sometimes in profound ways. We may look back at hard times and think, I’m glad that experience directed my life the way it did.

Author Matshona Dhliwayo once said, “Beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences.” I believe this is true. It is just hard to embrace this adage in the middle of a storm.

Creativity in a storm

Our world is in the middle of multiple storms. Between the coronavirus pandemic and our political landscape, it is enough to cause anxiety in most people. But the words James penned so many years ago could not be more relevant and true than in our present day.

October begins the eighth month we in the United States have been dealing with this challenging disease. This little microorganism has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Our homes, workplaces, churches, schools and hospitals are all learning how to deal with this “new normal” we wake up to every day.

As a church, some of our members who are affected the most by our current world conditions are our immigrant members. Along with the economic challenges they face, most do not have the equipment necessary to connect to the internet to partake in the school programs and virtual worship services that the rest of us are blessed by.

I spoke recently with Roberto Correa, Mid-America Union Hispanic Ministries coordinator, about how our Spanish speaking churches are coping with the virus. It was heartwarming to hear of the creative ways in which they have adjusted to keep worshiping together, serving their communities and reaching others for Christ (see more on p. 21).

Are you at a loss for knowing what to do during this time of distress? Are you wondering how you can bless others with what God has blessed you with during this pandemic? If so, I encourage you to talk to your conferences about how you can reach out to our immigrant churches and families. See how you can be of help to them during this difficult time we are experiencing. You might just find that “pure joy” James was speaking of.