When we first started out on our journey of faith it might have come as a surprise to us that we were destined for hardship. The first few bumps we faced certainly did not inspire joy, and probably caused us to pause and evaluate. What did we sign up for? Is it worth the cost? Or perhaps like myself you might have thought, ‘I can make it through these few trials—surely after this all will be well on my journey.’
These thoughts of course were very naïve. Little did I know the layers upon layers of carnality, pride, wickedness and self-reliance I needed to be purged of. With each layer that came off, I kept thinking, this is it, now I’ve finally arrived and I can do great things without hindrance.
This proved false and over the course of several years, I finally came to grips with the fact that fiery trials are a normal part of the Christian journey—in some seasons more so than others. This was a step in the right direction in my perspective. But I have fairly recently come to understand that there is an even higher level of acceptance of these trials that we are called to walk in.
James 1:2-4 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. –ESV
After the steps I’ve outlined above that I have taken in coming to grips with the reality of trials in my life, I have come to find that I still fall short many times. According to the verse in James, we should, if we are mature, consider it all joy when we meet trials. There are times when I do. When I can tell I’m going off the rails, I welcome God’s voice of rebuke that I can clearly tell will put me back on a track of spiritual safety.
Joy In Deep Suffering
But what about those times when I go through trials so deep that I can barely see anything but the problems? What if I can’t see God’s purpose? What if it feels like God doesn’t know what He’s doing and I’m headed for ruin? Or what if I feel like God is not in the picture at all? During these levels of trials can I find it in myself to consider it all joy? Not because of the trials themselves but because of the benefits produced by those trials that could not be produced in any other way.
Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. –ESV
Can we develop that kind of attitude about the trials we endure for the sake of our faith? We don’t have a council to beat us and we have a lot of Religious liberty in the United States, but in the trials we do have, we have the options of becoming bitter, slogging through, or considering it all joy. I hope I can learn to do the latter by the help of the Holy Spirit.