by Denise Wilson
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 NLT
This verse in James is familiar, but when I read it in the New Living Translation, it struck me in a way that it never had before. The word opportunity jumped off the page. The troubles that come into our lives are an opportunity for joy. Not just any kind of joy, but “great joy”.
I knew a missionary who seemed to find joy in everything. On one occasion his car broke down, and his response was, “Thank you, Lord, for this good trouble.”
The chance of having trials in this life is 100 percent. James says not “if” but “when” trials come our way. The question is, what attitude will I have when I go through them?
Trials are uncomfortable and often painful, yet when I realize our sovereign God is in control, I have an opportunity for great joy. I am not just speaking theoretically. I have experienced the joy of the Lord during the deepest trials of my life.
While pregnant with our first child, I went into premature labor. We prayed that our child would survive. We also prayed, “Thy will be done.” In God’s sovereign plan our son Samuel was born and moments later died in my husband’s arms. What a trial, and what deep grief; yet mingled with that grief was joy.
It sounds impossible to experience joy in such circumstances, but it is possible. God cannot lie, and if he tells us that troubles are an opportunity for great joy, then it must be true.
Our faith was tested further when I became pregnant with our second child Hannah Faith, who was stillborn. Despite great pain and sorrow, I experienced peace and joy. God’s promises are true.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).
I had read these verses so many times before, but during those trials I lived them.
While God ultimately blessed us with two more children, not all stories have happy endings. Regardless of the outcome, God is in control and God is good.
Sorrow is a natural and normal human response to a painful situation. Even Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. The author of Hebrews tells us how Jesus responded to the greatest trial of his life. “…Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). Jesus is our example. We are to fix our eyes on him.
I wish I could say that I experience joy in all circumstances. I don’t. Strangely, I often find it easier to trust God in the big areas of my life. It’s the small things that trip me up.
We must remember that God uses trials to help us grow (James 1:3-4).
Be encouraged friends, God truly does work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
We may never understand why we have to go through the things we do, but we do know this: God is in control, and he loves us. When we trust him, he promises peace and joy. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NIV).
My prayer for me, and for you, is that the next trial that comes along, we will be able to say, “Thank you, Lord, for this good trouble.”
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Denise Wilson lives in small-town Ontario with her husband, two teenage sons, and a whole bunch of chickens. She is passionate about sharing the gospel and is the author of Seven Words You Never Want to Hear.