Posted in theology

How can we be joyful in trials?

By Elizabeth Prata

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4).

There is nothing like a trial to drive a person to scripture. A friend is undergoing a severe and upsetting trial. As a church we come together to pray, fast, and love. Our elders led us through several pertinent scriptures and prayed through them. Then we sat around the tables and individually prayed with each other after that. It was a wonderful way to be elder-led, and a way to teach us how to pray the scriptures, too.

We prayed through the verse above. It’s no doubt counterintuitive to be joyful when you’re going through something that’s severe. How? How do we do it? How do we be ‘joyful’ when we are sad, anxious, confused? As we were going through this verse, I read John MacArthur’s note on it. Once again, his refreshing words of clarity cut through my dizzying emotions and re-oriented my thoughts toward Jesus once again. He said,

“The Greek word for ‘consider’ may also be translated “count” or “evaluate”. The natural human response to trials is not to rejoice, therefore the believer must make a conscious commitment to face them with joy.”

As for trials, “This Greek word connotes trouble, or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that things’ quality. God brings such tests to prove-and increase- the strength and quality of one’s faith and to demonstrate its validity. (vv 2-12). Every trial becomes a test of faith designed to strengthen. If the believer fails the test by wrongly responding that test then becomes a temptation”

“testing” This means “proof” or “proving”. Through tests, a Christian will learn to withstand tenaciously the pressure of a trial until God removes it as His appointed time and even cherish the benefit.” –end MacArthur

As Paul recounted his hardships, he said: “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things“. (2 Corinthians 6:10).

It’s a reminder that in Christ we have enough, more than enough, we have Christ. Focusing on the fact of our salvation and its benefits is ground zero for beginning to choose joy. We no longer stumble in the darkness, but we have the light, a light that the darkness has not overcome. (John 1:5). Imagine as a non-believer going through something terribly impactful, that upended your entire life. The resounding question in their mind is “Why, WHY?” but we have the reason, our salvation provides us the answer. To become more Christ-like and to give God glory, which is the chief end of man. (Westminster Shorter #1).

We choose joy not only by resting on our salvation, that glorious gift, but we can rejoice knowing we are eternally secure. Nothing we do will cast us from the Father’s hand, and when we see eternity, whether it be later or sooner, we know our future ahead is once again, in the Light. We do not have to fear death, but rejoice in the knowledge we shall see His face. We shall see loved ones once again. There will be no separation from boundless love and eternal peace. We are protected!

who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5).

We can choose joy because we know it’s only for a little while. Without Christ, we may hope for our years to be long. Life may seem long but deep down they know it’s short. I used to ponder that. To be born, live only 50 or 80 or even 90 years is not long, then we die, and then what? I used to wonder. What’s it all for if life is so short?! But in salvation we know that our lives on earth are breathtakingly short, compared to eternity. And the trial we may be undergoing is even shorter.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, (1 Peter 1:6).

Undergoing a trial may further equip us for ministry. This, too, is reason to rejoice. I know that already my elders are deepening their walk, digging into scriptures, and eager to lead us well. By their example we are growing too. It is all for God’s glory, and there is no better reason than that for the stresses of a life trial. When this trial ceases and His hand of pressure lifts, there will be sparkling diamonds and glittering gold underneath, people strengthened for ministry that will impact the kingdom in ways we cannot perceive or even conceive of yet.

There are, of course, many other ways to choose joy in the midst of a trial. No one really asks for one, or is eager for their appearance in our lives, but when they come, and they always do in one form or another, we have reason to rejoice. I am rejoicing because I know that-

–God is good
–All that God does is good
–There will be character strengthened, souls impacted, and growth -for His glory

EPrata photo


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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