JOY in Trials

Can we experience God’s blessings through difficulty, tragedy, disease, or loss?

During such times, we may raise our hands to the skies while crying out, “Where are you, God?” Through the different phases of these hardships, our outcry may be “Why, Lord?” Inside, we may be struggling with the words, “Unfair. What have I done to deserve this?”

It takes a different perspective, not a human one, to move past these feelings and advance forward with the point of view revealed to us in the Word: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Our human selves do not normally find “joy” in trials. We experience pain, sorrow, depression, loss of hope and even anger. Faith can be lost during these times. But faith can, also, be greatly strengthened. To gain through trial, we have to perceive our struggles in a different way. Maybe when things are hard, that is when God is showing us just how much He does love us. Struggles can mold and shape us closer to His image; bring us to our knees before Him to seek His counsel, wisdom and forgiveness; and take us to the realization that we cannot make it alone without Him. We must be transformed by Him– to be with Him. Trials can create this change in us, and we can understand the joy in the Lord from a Godly view.

Our individual “thorn in the flesh” is hard to bear, but it may be the blessing given to bring about the change that is needed to help us grow as a Christian and remain faithful. Our experiences through trials may also be used to help others with the same problem. Our attitudes toward hardship may bring souls to Christ. All has been done/is done in love—and through joy in the hope given by Christ.

Can we experience God’s blessings through trials? The answer is “yes” for those who remain faithful and persevere through the difficulties of life, through the “thorns” and the trials. The promise of eternity awaits us beyond this mortal clock. No more loss there. No more tragedy there. No more disease there. NO MORE. In the presence of God, only blessings can abound. “Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights, in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Dear Lord, please help us see the blessings in trial. Help us use these trials to grow and mature in Christ. May we look for opportunities to bless others’ lives through our experiences with hardship.  Help us persevere to the day when it is all made clearer in Your presence.  Amen.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 08/20/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

WITH CHRIST: Joy on the Path of Life

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence,

with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

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The little girl with curly ringlets in her hair walked away from her mother, down the path on her own. A smile swept across the mother’s face, watching her daughter’s baby steps of independence. The expression soon changed to a thoughtful gaze as she envisioned her daughter walking ahead, forward in time–growing up, facing challenges, enduring trials, embracing life, holding another hand, her own baby’s steps leaving footprints ahead. There was joy in the mother’s heart and tears blurred her eyes, as she watched her little girl continue to move ahead of her, down the path. . .

Sadness with joy. It seems contradictory. Most would agree that happiness and joy complement each other, but how can one have sadness and still be joyful?

James says to Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)  Our characters can be transformed, reshaped, and renewed through such trials, so that we reflect attributes of Christ. The pain of the labor brings forth a new joy. We become more like Him, who took on pain, great suffering, abandonment by God, and our sin so we could live with Him eternally.

 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:8-9)

What “glorious joy” it will be when we can see Him!  John wrote to the church family: “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:12) How complete our joy will be to see Christ, stand in His presence, and talk with Him!

 …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

As the mother watches her little girl take baby steps independently down the path ahead, we know there is, likely, another scene where the child looks back to make sure the mother is still there and yet another scene where she returns to her mother’s arms. God watches our steps of independence and waits for us to turn back to Him. We may encounter ruts, sinkholes, flooding, barricades, and more along our independent path before we look back– and go back– to Him, but when we do, the joy surpasses any tribulation we will confront and endure to arrive at the place where He is.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. (Proverbs 10:28) Our prospect is our choice. But only His way, His path is the one that leads to eternal joy.

(Sharon  G. Tate 05/21/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word