“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.” (James 1:2-4, ESV)
“Count it all joy.” Wow. These words are such a source of encouragement to me. We go through many ups and downs in our time on Earth. Some days we don’t know how we will make it through – emotionally, physically, spiritually, or mentally. Life is messy. But, count it all joy! For those who love and belong to the Lord, those trials serve a beautiful purpose.
When I go through a hardship, I am comforted in knowing that God is doing something special through the pain. Even if I don’t know what He’s accomplishing specifically, I know that I’m suffering for a divine purpose. There is growth happening. Trials are emotionally exhausting, but what a peace there is in knowing that something truly positive – becoming more like Christ – is coming from each of them.
The biggest and longest trial I have ever faced in my life has been the heartache of infertility. I still pray and hope that I will be able to have children someday. Some mornings are bright and hope-filled; whereas, others seem bleak and hopeless; yet, I know, somehow, someway, God is using this trial for His glory. Whether He blesses us with children or uses our marriage in a non-traditional way, God will be glorified in this situation. I cannot always see it and I certainly don’t understand it, but I have grown from this experience.
What about you? What trials have you faced or are currently facing? Does it seem impossible to find joy in the madness or do you see God’s hands all over your life? Personally, I have experienced (and continue to experience) both sides of this coin. A day can begin perfectly normally and then the laughter of neighborhood kids brings me to tears. Other days, I am able to find joy in being free to pursue other opportunities I would not have if I were a mother. Those opportunities and challenges in no way drown my desire for motherhood, but they encourage me as I continue to wait. Learning to wait and trust God may be the lesson He’s trying to teach me as I endure this emotional roller coaster. Of course, my flesh is yelling, “Let me off the ride, I’m sick!”
Trial of Singleness
For many of you, singleness may be the most significant and longest trial you’ve faced. In your period of waiting, you’ve probably had mornings that seemed bright and hope-filled – and other mornings where you wanted to pull the covers over your head and hide from life. Chances are you’ve had to endure plenty of “encouraging” comments from others, questions from well-meaning family members, and numerous Facebook wedding photos. (“My friends don’t want to hear about this longing in my heart again. I’ll just keep it to myself.”)
If this is you, I don’t want to be yet another voice in the wind trying to make you feel better. Words fail… often. Nothing I can say will take the desire away or ease the inner ache, but I hope you are encouraged by the prospect that God is using this exceedingly, and understandably, painful time of waiting in your life for your good and His glory. I’m sure there are days you don’t even want to think about that. (“How am I supposed to count it all joy when I’m dying inside!?!?!”) Those emotions are so deep and raw; still, God can handle us at our worst. He doesn’t fall apart when we have questions or frustrations.
No matter the trial, remember that God wants us to take joy in them. Just as loving parents challenge their children so they will grow in strength and wisdom, God allows His children to suffer for a purpose so much more beautiful – and so worth it.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, ESV)
No matter what you’re going through, if you are a child of the Most High, I hope you will count it all joy in knowing that God is doing something magnificent in and through you.
Are you finding joy in your trial?