All My Trials, Lord

By Kathy Coleman

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-3)

I used to have a hard time with this verse. Joy?! I just didn’t get it. Of course I understood that trials are good for us. They build character. They produce patience. They are a way for God to refine us like gold is refined by fire---but that’s not  a particularly joyful analogy. They are a way for God to mold us like a potter molds clay---not quite so unpleasant as fire. I simply considered trials as necessary evils, requiring a stiff upper lip and the determination to endure the test and come out on the other side, hopefully a better woman for it, and hopefully joyful that I’d survived the trial! Unfortunately a stiff upper lip, determination, and a modicum of patience used to be my main responses to trials.

I imagine if God knows we need to learn a certain lesson, He may work things out to teach us that lesson, even if it’s painful for us and we consider it a trial. Frankly, however, I don’t believe I’ve had to trouble God much to send trials my way. As far as I can tell, most of mine have come my way entirely due to my own actions. Not that I go out of my way to seek trials. I try to make good, wise decisions, which somehow, in retrospect, turn out not to have been so wise, and often seem to be the cause of my trials.

Since I bring my trials on myself, perhaps that’s why I hesitated to trouble God to get me out of them, but I think that’s exactly what He always hoped that I would learn to do. Then a few years ago, I experienced a trial that was much worse than any of the others that had come before, and that was when I implored God to help, and learned about the joy in trials.

The joy came from being certain that God was listening to my prayers and answering them with blessings beyond what I’d even prayed for! I probably was never so close to God at any other time in my life as I was at that time. I believe God was pleased that I drew close to Him, that I told Him about my problems, and asked Him for help. So He answered me with blessings, peace, and joy. One of the blessings of that time was that I obtained enough strength to move into my own house after having lived with my mom for a number of years. I was able to start taking control of my life, thanks to God’s help.

Recently (actually during yet another trial) I re-read an e-mail I’d sent to a minister during that really trying time a few years ago. I’d kept the e-mail, but hadn’t read it again because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to recall the pain of that other time. But I found the e-mail to be quite uplifting! (At the time I wrote it, the minister told me I’d just written his sermon for him.) The e-mail went into detail about a number of the blessings I’d been experiencing during the trial, and the joy I felt mixed with the pain of the trial.

We all experience trials of one kind or another from time to time. I don’t think trials are just part of the Christian life, but simply part of life (probably because if other people are like me sometimes we don’t correctly anticipate those consequences.) The Christian is more fortunate, though, because whether God sends the trials, or we inadvertently bring them on ourselves, He will help us through them if we but ask!

God wants us to ask Him for help in our trials. Just as parents would want their children to come for help when they’re troubled or in pain, God is waiting to comfort us and see us through difficult times when we ask. I imagine it saddens God to see us hurting, and it pleases Him when we draw near to Him.

Those of you who have always understood how joy can come from trials may wonder why I write this. But I figure if I’ve had an experience, maybe someone else has, too---maybe someone else also had difficulty understanding about this joy in the midst of trial--although you never know; maybe, I’m just different.

I do believe, however, that on occasion, it’s most difficult to reach out to God at the very time we need Him the most. So I write to encourage anyone who might have had this happen during a trial. Next time a trial descends, work to push past the barrier and draw close to God; explain your problems; ask for help and guidance; and await His blessings and joy! 

Volume 04 Issue 05 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | In the Days of Your Youth | Book Review |

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