James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”*
We all have trials: divorce, the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, abusive relationships, and many more.
During a trial, we might feel like God is nowhere to be found and that He is not hearing our prayers.
How do we do that? How—when we are amid heartache, crying, worrying, and feeling like giving up—do we “count it as joy”?
I’ve been there. I have had many trials; some, not so bad, while others have been traumatic to the point where I just wanted to give up and not be on this earth anymore.
God delivered me from a 30-year smoking habit. I quit more than five years ago. So, when I was first diagnosed with lung cancer six months ago, it was not a surprise to me. After years of chronic pain and many doctors trying to figure out what was wrong, they finally found the tumor.
I’m thankful to God for the chemotherapy and radiation that shrunk the tumor, and I am now cancer-free. I also had a colon resection and another surgery where they took a portion of my lung and 15 lymph nodes out. The results came back without cancer cells. Both surgeries took place in a four-month time frame, and I’m now on oxygen 24/7. As a 70-year-old, I’m grateful just to be alive.
I was not afraid to die, but I was very anxious and depressed about what would happen to my son and all our dogs when I died. We sometimes tend to think the worst is going to happen. I constantly worried that my son and dogs would be without a home, until one day I came across James 1:2, which says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
Choosing the Way Forward
It takes practice. When I was in the middle of deep depression, I made myself read some scriptures, take a couple of deep breaths, and pray. I went to God and told Him, “OK God, I’m going to count this trial as joy. I don’t feel it, but I thank You for this trial because I know that Your plans for me are for good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” So, I thank You for this trial because I know You will go through it with me, and You will never leave or forsake me.”
When I first started thanking God for the trials, it felt different; because let’s face it, thanking God when you don’t feel grateful is difficult. When things are hard it’s easy to fall into worry and depression. I wasn’t feeling very thankful, but I asked God to fill me with His Holy Spirit and to help me feel thankful. Surprisingly, if we keep thanking God for the trials and telling Him that we are counting them as joy, and if we ask Him to put joy in our hearts, He will.
Isaiah 55:8, 9 says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
Each day, if I remember to turn my will and life over to God, He will talk to me. When I catch myself starting to think negative thoughts, I force myself to focus on what I’m grateful for. In Philippians 4:8, 9, Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
If we follow that advice, our burdens will be lifted. There is always something to be grateful for.
Kathleen Nash writes from Pearce, Arizona.
*All Bible texts are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.