Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.
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. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.James 1:2-6
When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:
Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!
One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”
Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?
The passage gives us a few reasons:
When we go through hardships, it helps us to be steadfast.
Verse 2 points out that when our faith is tested, it produces steadfastness or perseverance. The New Living Translation says that when we go through difficulties our “endurance has a chance to grow.”
When we go through hardships, it makes us WHOLE.
Verse 4 encourages us to allow perseverance to “finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete…” When we go through trials, it rounds out our character and makes us more like Jesus. Additionally, the passage says that this process will help us to be secure and fulfilled, “lacking nothing.” As Christians, even in the direst of circumstances where we have had every earthly thing taken from us, we still “lack nothing” – because we have God.
This is a difficult truth but it should also be a freeing one. Think about your worst case scenarios. As believers, we should be able to say, “Even if the worst thing happens, I will have the Lord.”
Even if my family is taken from me, I will not be alone.
Even if my home burns down and all my earthly possessions are gone, I will lack nothing because I have an eternal home.
Even when my body fades away, my soul will persist because I am covered in Jesus’ blood.
Even in the midst of the worst trials, I can be secure and fulfilled, because I have God with me and I know this world is not my home.
These are challenging truths, mamas, but they should also free us from fear! We don’t have to be afraid of whatever lies ahead of us, because the Lord is with us.
Here are more scriptures to bolster our faith through trials:
So, how do I get through trials – with joy?
The passage in James 1 calls us to ask God for wisdom. So often I find myself going through a hardship and I don’t even consider asking God for the strength and wisdom to get through the difficulty I’m in! Yet the Bible specifically tells me this is what I’m supposed to do.
Why don’t I ask God for wisdom?
Sometimes I just assume God doesn’t want to answer that kind of prayer. As if my requests are too trivial, or that I need to save my prayers for the EXTRA hard times.
The question for me is: do I really believe God CAN and WILL get me through this trial?
When I’m battling with my faith in this way, I often pray the prayer of the father in Mark 9: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”
I love that James reminds us that God will not only help us, but that He gives ” generously to all without reproach.” God isn’t stingy about his generosity and He isn’t snobby about it, either! He loves to be generous – can you think of a single scripture where God was tightfisted or sparing with His blessings? Consider Jesus’ first miracle: turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). Not only was He convinced by his mother to do a miracle He wasn’t originally planning to perform, He made the BEST wine and He made a TON of it (almost 1,000 bottles worth of wine!).
This is the Lord who hears our prayers.
I hope this is helpful, mamas, as we strive to find joy in the trials ahead of us. Stand firm, my friends.
To read more about joy, check out this post: True Joy.