Finding joy in the trials of life – who does that?
James 1:2 isn’t exactly a coffee-cup Bible verse. It’s not one we put on t-shirts or even weave into beautiful song lyrics. In fact, sometimes we kind of squirm when it comes up.
Let’s go ahead and get it out there. James 1:2-4 in the ESV says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
That verse has taken on a completely new meaning for me over the past couple of years.
Two summers ago, I went from being extremely active to practically bedridden. Well, I was in fact bedridden for the two or three weeks I spent in the hospital, but I never really recovered. That was just the beginning of my journey with chronic pain.
I suffer from something called status migrainosus. It’s a type of chronic migraine that never eases up. I essentially have a migraine all day every day. Some days are worse than others, but it never completely goes away.
It’s a trial to be sure.
However, my life hasn’t just stopped because my head hurts. I am still the mother of four, a wife, and an author. We still have bills to pay and there are always dishes to be washed.
So back to the verse in James, finding joy in the trials of life is something I'm getting pretty practiced at.
It would be easy to focus on the negative. So, I have to make it a point to look for the good. I have to be intentional about finding joy.
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3 Keys To Finding Joy In The Trials Of Life
I don’t know what your life looks like, but even before my journey with chronic pain started, there were days I wanted to throw my hands up and call it quits. Everyone has their own share of trials. And while our trials are all different, they are all very real.
What I have learned is that finding joy in the midst of trials is easiest when we trust that God is in control. When other people sneer at verses like Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV), I tend to breathe a little deeper. Which is why trusting Jesus is the first thing on my list.
1.) Trust In Jesus
Just knowing that God omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent is a comfort to me. I don’t have to know it all, because God’s got it under control. He knew it was going to happen before I was born, and I can trust Him.
And that’s what it comes down to, trust.
So, the first key to finding joy in the trials of life is placing your trust in God. If you believe He is in control, it's easier to relax and find joy in the moments.
I can't imagine going through the past two years without Jesus. He has gotten me through some sleepless nights. He's gotten me through the days that my head hurt so bad I wanted to give up. I don't even know where I would be without Him.
When we place our trust in Jesus it changes everything. Real Christianity isn't just some bumper sticker or a catchphrase; it gives us peace and allows us to find joy even in the midst of the trials of life. It gives us hope and peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
2.) Remember The Gospel
The next key to finding joy in the trials of life is living in light of the gospel.
The gospel is huge. It's life-changing. Not just at the moment of salvation, but in every moment of every day.
The good news about Jesus wasn't just that we get to go to Heaven (though, I mean that's pretty awesome all on its own), but Jesus came to save us from sin so we could have a relationship with Him and eternal life. I don't care how bad my head hurts, that never gets old.
But this was something God actually planted in my heart before my migraines started. I call it the everyday gospel. And it is revolutionary.
If you start to beat yourself up over something you did (or didn't do) you can remind yourself that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus (Rom. 8:1). The same is true if someone else says something to you or about you (just a good FYI because I've been there recently).
When you feel alone or unloved you can remember that the Creator of the universe loved you enough to send His Son to die for you (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8).
The gospel applies to every moment of every day. No matter what we are going through, the gospel is good for it. It really is good news for all people. Our sins are forgiven because at just the right moment Christ died for us. And whatever trial we're facing right now, because of Jesus we don't have to face it alone. It doesn't get any better than that.
3.) Look for the Good
The next key to finding joy in life is simply to look for it. Looking for the good in a situation probably seems pretty basic. But sometimes I have to remind myself to do it. When my head hurts really bad, or when I have a day where my head hurts, I'm fighting with insurance, and something else goes wrong. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and look around.
Do you ever do that?
Do you ever just stop what you are doing and look at your life? At all God has blessed you with?
I have four amazing kids. A husband who loves me. We live in a house in a good neighborhood. In a wonderful little town. We have an amazing church family and a great community. I have some amazing Christian sisters (both online and off). And the list could go on.
I am blessed beyond measure.
Yes, my head hurts. Yes, I have bad days. But that doesn't make me any less blessed.
What It All Comes Down To Is This
Psalm 118 is one of my favorite Psalms. Okay, it is my favorite Psalm. It starts out saying, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
What it comes down it is this: I know I am loved by God.
No matter what life throws my way, that will never change. And if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, the same is true for you, too.
Psalm 118:14 says, “The Lord is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation” (ESV). And then we probably all know verse 24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (ESV). Another, more popular Bible verse that probably could be considered a coffee-cup verse is the end of Nehemiah 8:10. It says, “do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (ESV).
There is joy in knowing where you stand with Jesus. In knowing the God of the universe is the God you pray to. In knowing His Spirit lives in your heart.
Yes, life is hard. But even when it throws trials our way, we can face them when we know we have the One who created everything in our corner.
Finding joy in the trials of life is really less about our trials and more about our God. Because the more we know about the God we serve, the less control our trials have over us. Yes, trials might be big and hard, but we know our God is bigger and we can trust in Him.
How Do You Find Joy In Trials?
What about you? What helps you find joy in the trials of life?
Do you count your blessings? Is there a Bible verse you cling to or do you have a favorite song you like to listen to? We would love to hear from you. Join the conversation in the comments below!