Dr. Jamie Aten, a cancer survivor who researches how people respond to trauma, intimated that when going through adversity, perspective is everything. After Superstorm Sandy ravaged Seaside Heights, New Jersey (USA), one of Aten’s colleagues was deployed to help with relief efforts. She met a man whose roof had been blown away by the strong winds. Instead of wallowing in pessimism, the man gave some surprisingly optimistic advice: “Sometimes, you have to lose the roof to see the stars.” This man chose to see joyful meaning even in a great hardship.

What perspective! In a similar way, James gave some surprising advice to persecuted believers. Instead of viewing “troubles of any kind [that] come your way” as punishment from God, James encouraged his brothers and sisters in Christ to see joyful meaning in their suffering (James 1:2).

It’s interesting that James didn’t encourage them to escape from their trials or rejoice for the trials—but to find full and unmixed joy in the midst of them. Every trial was under the sovereign hand of God, who wanted His people to “look for the stars” after the winds of persecution had blown off the roof of their lives. As they pursued His wisdom and looked for opportunities for growth in their struggles, God would produce in them endurance and strong character (James 1:2-5). Every trial carried within it a possibility of spiritual growth and “an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2).

When difficulties come our way, may we not become angry or disillusioned with God or distance ourselves from the faith community. Instead, by His strength, let’s choose to “look for the stars” as we grow to be more like Christ.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 5:13–6:27