JOY-THE SPARKLE OF LIFE! The real test of authentic God-spawned joy is not the experience of joyfulness when it comes naturally, as in the finding of a missing child, or the joy of gift-exchanging at family Christmas gatherings. The ultimate test of joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit is the experience of deep joy in the midst of sufferings and hardships. Rejoicing in time of trouble, is actually a mandate of Jesus in reminding us that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart (cheer up-rejoice)! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Our personal sufferings would be a lot easier to take if Jesus appeared to us in our trials, as vividly as he was seen by his apostles, and told us to rejoice in those sufferings. Those with deep faith don’t need such an apparition or personal revelation of Christ to believe this. But for most of us there’s a faith-weakness that becomes obvious when we can’t experience any joy in pain, adversity, hardships or disappointments. The words of James about faith-based joy are some of the most challenging in Scripture: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Thus the Bible says that our spiritual maturity is calibrated by the degree that we experience pure joy in our trials. This talk will make you stop to consider those words in light of your present suffering, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual, or interpersonal. Any faith-challenged person will be attitudinally changed by this talk; it will alter one’s life-view from a downcast outlook to an upbeat uplook.