Joy in Trials and Suffering

There are times at the house where my roommates and I will either group text, or simply announce (when we are all together) it is an “honest *fill in your name* moment…” and then we proceed with our comment.

Well guys, honest Christi moment…I am coming into this post unsure how to even begin. Joy is something I am struggling to feel and experience in this season of life and now I am going to tell you how and why we can find joy in our suffering. I’ve been on a journey filled with being pushed outside my comfort zone, living with unknowns, and simply needing to place my faith and trust solely in Christ to guide my next step, knowing His promises are true. And it has not been easy, but I seriously would not change this season of life for anything because I am learning to live out what James tells us about counting our trials all joy. Before diving into James, I think it is essential to bring definition to this word “trial.”

According to Merriam-Webster, a trial is: a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation

James 1:2, count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…

Now, just reading this verse, my first thought is why? Why am I supposed to rejoice and how am I to find joy in the heat of the darkest nights during trials and hardships? First question I attempt to answer is the why. Why are we called to find joy in the midnight hours of life? I believe we have to look to verse 3 to find the answer.

James 1:3 …for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

There is purpose for the testing of our faith, it is never in vain or with no purpose. During these moments of suffering, which we are told time and time again in the bible that we will encounter suffering in this world, are meant to deepen and increase our faith. I’ve often found in my deepest suffering, my hardest trials, and in the greatest unknowns of life, I see Jesus the clearest. It doesn’t happen overnight, but at some point there is like a switch in my heart that goes on and I simply see Jesus in the middle of my midnight hour.

I’ve talked about why we ought to rejoice but I still have one other question of how? What does it look like? How do we keep joy when joy seems absent?

I wish I had some deep and insightful answer, but I am about to give the obvious.

Jesus.

Jesus is the how. I find my mind and my heart at times are clouded and my vision to see the truth of the gospel in times of trial and suffering are foggy and that is when I need to refocus my sight. The only way to do that is to look and see Jesus. I just started reading John, one of my favorite gospel accounts, and simply asking myself…who is Jesus? And Who am I in Christ? You see, my circumstances have not changed, but God is changing my heart and that is reason enough to rejoice.

I heard it said once at a concert like this. Back before GPS’s and maps, and the internet, and easy ways not to get lost, when sailors would sail at night, they would use the constellations in the sky as a guide. Which means, the darker their night, the more clearly they see the stars align. The same goes with our lives. In our darkest hour of our hardest night, God’s promises do not change or become more true, they simply shine a little brighter. We see them a smidge clearer. And when we stop looking at ourselves and our circumstances and place our eyes upward and on the cross of Christ, joy seems a little more natural.

Joy takes work, but also rests in Christ. I am struggling to feel joy. I am struggling to keep my eyes off my circumstances and keep them on Christ, but I know I can count this season of life as joyful because my trials are producing steadfastness, and I can rest in Christ, knowing this too shall pass and God is refining me and molding me more into an image of Christ.

Until next time,
Christi

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