Guest post by Monica Hoffman
Consider it pure joy…. You’ve got to be kidding. I bet you know where I am going. “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds” Seriously? Can that be true? Is that even possible? It must be. It’s Scripture.
I have observed however, many in the church have a tendency to want a life of ease and comfort, at least in our society. When faced with an ongoing struggle we can begin to doubt the character of God and His love for us or if He even exists. This pain can result in people leaving their faith. The above Scripture however, tells us trials actually are there to test our faith.
I was born like any of you. Then one day when I was a toddler, my mom came to get me from a nap and I died in her arms. When I was finally revived thirty minutes later, I had significant brain damage. Brain damage that has stolen my ability to walk, function at my age level, and have full independence.
For so long, I just wanted to get out of the wheelchair. I went to multiple healing services and would ask people to pray for me. I desperately wanted to be “normal.” It wasn’t until I fully surrendered to Him, learning a little bit at a time what it meant to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” that I finally realized I don’t need to be normal as the world sees normal.
It wasn’t an overnight thing but over the last many years, I have learned to trust Him more. So, when my Mom was recently disagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I had already learned I can count on God to walk this journey with us.
In Job 42, Job is talking to God. For the entirety of the book, Job has wrestled with God. He’d had almost everything taken away. But finally, in verse 5, Job says to God “Once I had heard of You, now I have seen You.”
I don’t trust God perfectly yet, but I see God better in my disability and in other trials than I once did. I see growth in my trust that God really does bring good from all things (Romans 8:28). For example, He has used my imperfect disabled body to reach many people I would not have been able to reach if I had not travelled this trial of disability.
Here are four keys to finding joy in the midst of our trials:
1. Prepare ahead of time.
We don’t know when a trial is going to hit us. Reading the Bible daily, prepares us to face whatever comes our way. The Bible is also a treasure chest of the names of God. Learning these names can really help to prepare for trials as it is so important to know who God says He is so we can combat whatever comes at us in the trial.
When a trial comes, it’s natural to have questions like “If God is so good, why did He allow this to happen?” or “If God really loves me, why is He not taking this trial away?” At some point however, those questions need to end and trust needs to infiltrate our relationship with God. The knowledge of God’s Word can help us in this process to stop wrestling. It is also really important to not chop verses of Scripture in half. The verse I quoted at the beginning of this article was “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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Trials do test faith. Being in a wheelchair for many years has definitely tested my faith, and perseverance has come out of that.
3. Take time to listen.
Slowing down is hard sometimes. I would often take a “walk” and spend that time with God. I found a private spot to go and pray and listen. It was on one of these outings to just be with God that I had one of the most transformative moments in my journey as a Christian. I was sitting staring up into the sky when the heavens opened, and I saw Jesus holding a baby. In that moment I knew the baby was me and that I had been held in the arms of Jesus all those years ago when I had died here on earth.
4. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
This is a choice, a change of mindset. It’s not easy, and the enemy will try to draw us back down, but when we consciously choose to focus our minds on the things of God; the good, the pure, the noble, the excellent, we gain a joy that is not a worldly joy, it’s a joy that no man can take away. It’s the Joy of the Lord and it will be our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
So, “Consider it pure joy…” No, I’m not kidding. It is possible. The joy does not come from the trial. it comes from what God does in us through the trial. Once we get to the point where we can quote Job in saying “Once I had heard of You, but now I have seen You” that is a cause for true, deep joy, even, (or because of), the trials.
Monica Hoffman is an active young adult who enjoys writing, adaptive skiing and playing board games. She has been a member and teacher with Propeller Dance; an integrated dance company, since 2009. To interact more with Monica check out her blog: Grace’s Journal
Image taken from Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash.