“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,” James 1:2-4, ESV.
I didn’t realize it was getting to me. I had gotten outside pretty early to weed the garden and do the barn chores. As I went to the chicken coop, the smell reminded me that the coop needed to be cleaned again, and as I was doing that, I found a hole in the chicken wire where something (probably the rat) had gotten through. So, I went and got the supplies to mend the wire and close the hole. When I stood up, I realized just how hot I was and that the only place I was sweating was on my face. I knew it was time to get inside, get a cool glass of water and enjoy the air conditioning. The heat had gotten to me to such a point that I laid down on the floor under the ceiling fan and it took about 20 minutes for my cheek color to fade from scarlet to bright pink.
Heat—sometimes we don’t realize what it is doing to us. Just like trials, sometimes we don’t realize we are even in them, let alone that they are sapping our energy and making us tired. When that happens, we need to take break. A joy break. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Just as I needed a cool glass of water and a break from the outside heat, our souls need moments of joy when we are under pressure. James tells us to “count it all joy.” What exactly does that mean? Are we to be happy that we are in the midst of trials? Should we deliriously deny that we are under pressure? Not exactly. Yes, we should be joyful that God is with us during our trials, that He deems us faithful and trustworthy, through His power and grace, to navigate the difficulty we find ourselves in, but I do not believe God expects us to deny what is happening. I think we find the joy in the midst of the trials—just like I found water and air conditioning in the middle of that hot day.
God knows we need trials to help us grow, just like we need the sun to help the grass grow and give the birds an opportunity to sing. We need to be steadfast, and part of that is recognizing God’s hand in all things that happen to us. We may not be happy about the circumstances, but we can find joy in the fact that God never leaves us to journey alone and He will never allow anything that will destroy us. Take that joy break, and don’t break under the weight of the trial. God is carrying it, so it cannot crush you. You are going to make it.
Thought-provoker: Where do we need joy moments today? What trial is God using to make us stronger, better, and complete? Thank Him for it today, even if you don’t feel like it.
Abba, thank You that we are never alone, that You are always leading the way and walking with us on this journey of life. Please help us find the joy moments that give us the relief we need to keep moving forward, even in difficult circumstances. Thank You for Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.