Many people are starting to think, with joy, about the Holidays. Conversely, for many it's been a hard year, and they are looking forward to its end, with hope for a better one ahead. While looking joyfully to what comes after hard times may be normal, remaining joyful while in them is the measure of true spiritual maturity.
At the end of a life of suffering for Christ, Paul declared, “I have finished the race, with joy, and kept the faith...” (1 Tim. 4:7; Acts 20:24 edited). Recently, I read that, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade wrote a book called, “The Journey Home, Finishing with Joy”—in which he gave testimony to the goodness of God despite pain and suffering he was about to endure in his final days.
You may not be a “St. Paul” or a “Bill Bright” attempting to finish well at the end of your life, but still, your hard times are bringing you to the end of your self (you won't be finished until they do). The question remains, will you be able to say “I kept the faith, finished the race, and counted it pure joy?” (Ja. 1:2)