Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Find Joy in our Trials

This is arguably one of the most challenging verses in Scripture:

“Consider it great joy, my brothers, 
whenever you experience various trials”  
James 1:2 (HCSB)

After all, life hurts. Just this week I spoke with a woman who recently lost a loved one to a drug-related accident. Another friend is facing infertility and yet another learned that a nephew ran away from home. How do we find joy in trials like these?

Our women’s Sunday school class had our first discussion on James this past week.  The brother of Jesus hits us hard. He briefly introduces himself, then lets us have it with a powerful exhortation to find joy in our trials. Our class discussion was lively, and members shared thoughts on how to comply. Here are three great starting points that I pray might help us all as we face trials:

1) Remember God’s Character.   

When trials come, it keeps things in perspective when we remember:

God restores

He redeems

He protects

He defends

He delivers

He rescues

He helps

He guides

Remembering that God works for our good and His glory helps us see our trial through the lens of a heavenly perspective. I expect we will get through this trial, and when we get to the other side, our strength will increase, our witness will grow, and our testimony will have more power to impact others. Eventually, (as hard as it may be to imagine at this moment) we’ll see our life as better because of the trial that we faced. Clinging to truths about the character of God will help us find joy in our trials.

2) Play out the “What If’s”.

Fear is a great “squasher” of joy and we can allow ourselves to become paralyzed by worrying about the worst things that might happen.  We wonder, ‘What if ... ’ and consider that our life might very well be ruined by a particular trial we face. If we play out the worst-case scenarios and imagine what we believe is the most terrible thing that can happen, we begin to see that  - no matter what - God is still God. He is still with us.  He is still for us.  When tragedy strikes, we might go down hard. Perhaps we’ll be knocked off our feet. But the Lord will help us up. We can think of His character traits (see point one) and remember that we never walk through a trial alone. God is at our side and He equips us for all we’ll face, both now and in the future.  

Our trials/fears/worries often drive us to our knees. They cause us to seek God in deeper ways and when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13) This is a great promise and an effective way to find joy in our trials. 

3) Express gratitude. 

A story that resonates came came from my friend, Kathy.  Read it here.  Kathy reminded me that if we show gratitude for what we have instead of moaning about what we do not have, wonderful things happen:  Our focus moves from ourselves to our Lord.  Our hearts are softened and joy comes quickly. When we’re thankful for what we have, God often responds with surprising generosity.  

Keeping a gratitude journal, or a simple list of things for which we are thankful, will keep our hearts and minds focused on the provision, kindness, and generosity of God. Even as we face trials, we can find joy in gratitude.

One of the things I’m grateful for today is the fragrance of fresh cut lilacs sitting on my desk.  When we look for blessing, we’ll find it. 

If our lives are so clouded with the burden of a trial that we can’t see the blessings, let’s ask God to open our eyes to see what He’s provided. He’ll respond in remarkable ways. 

Your Turn:

How have you found joy in trials?

After going through a trial, how did you later begin to see the resulting blessing?

Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below, or joining me on Twitter or Facebook!

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


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