Faith, Joy

Joy In Hard Places

I’m off to do car stuff and school stuff and other stuff today.  This is an excerpt from a speech I gave a while back.

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There is a verse in the book of James that says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Are you kidding me James? Pure joy? In trials? Seriously?

I have always struggled with this verse because I can’t imagine that I’m supposed to feel joyful when the world is trying to whack me upside the head, as it seems to like to do.

If I were to pick nits,  it says “consider” it pure joy. It does not say “feel” pure joy.  So if you are not feeling pure joy in the midst of your struggle, you are off the hook. Not required.

The joy is not in the trial itself, but rather it is the bi-product of the struggle, of working through the difficulty.

There is joy in the opportunity to grow spiritually in the midst of turmoil, joy in the eventual victory over the difficulty, and I think most especially, joy in the deepening of support relationships as you make your way through the hardship.  The people who come to your aid and stand beside you and gather you up are comfort and joy embodied.

And I submit to you, from my own experience, that the joy that comes from difficulty, when it comes, is life altering.  It is terribly sweet and lasting and becomes a part of who you are and how you view the experience of life here, and hereafter.

Is there joy in losing a spouse or a child or a loved one, the worst kind of trial?  No. Absolutely not.  But there is joy in the memory of the beloved that remains. The person may die, but the joy remains. Having said that, I know first hand that grief can numb you to that joy for a long time.

Joy in difficult places is like childbirth — after tremendous pain comes a tremendous and life changing joy.

20 thoughts on “Joy In Hard Places

  1. In 1985 my husband and I adopted a little girl (Annie) in an open adoption. She died of cancer 7 years later. Just yesterday her birth grandmother and I were talking about her and the joy that she brought to us all. I am so thankful that 16 years later I still have a friendship with Annie’s family and that we can remember the joy together.

  2. So well stated! I have present joys that are the direct result of severe past trials. Looking back, I realize that I still could not choose to go through those things, but boy, I wouldn’t trade the resulting joy for the world!

  3. Love the words of the paragraph that begins, “And I submit to you…” Perfectly stated and wonderfully truthful. My guess is that I will find myself wanting to quote those two sentences. May I? It would be either verbally, or in email, or perhaps facebook; but otherwise not in a formally published work of any sort.

  4. My sweet husband passed away one month ago today. A blogging friend steared me to your post today because I too had posted about joy in the bad times. Thank you for sharing these wonderful words.

  5. So lovingly said.

    I have 3 co-workers that are in the exclusive club of mother’s that have lost a child. All 3 teen/college age and very recent.
    Grief has been their constant companion. It hurts to see them hurting.
    I want to help…..your words are precious!
    Thank you.

  6. Beautifully said. I just read this passage this morning. I’d also like to suggest that sometimes the joy is simply and fully the closeness to the Savior that comes through the trial, and that alone is enough to make it worth the pain. Sometimes there aren’t any support relationships when we need them most, and sometimes there is no joy-tinged memories to be found when the loss of a spouse or family member is one worse than death… but Jesus Himself brings joy, proving Himself strong in our weakness. Thank you, AM.

  7. Just last night in my prayers I was thanking my Heavenly Father for my trials. And then I stopped and thought, “Why did I just say that?!”, and then my thoughts were pretty much what you described in this post. I’m not thankful for the trial, I’m thankful for the closeness I feel to Him because of the trial and how my testimony of the Savior has grown. I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned, the growth I’ve achieved, the understanding I’ve gained, the love of friends, etc. etc. etc. I have more joy now than before my trial.

  8. Nice reminder AM. Have you read anything by Corey Tenboom? She was a survivor of concentration camps of WWII. Her sister always thanked Heavenly Father for their trials and when it was Corey’s turn to pray she was reminded to Thank God for the lice in their sleeping quarters. Corey didn’t want to do it, but she did. Later they realized that thanks to the lice the guards stayed away from their section and they were able to study and teach the Bible with the other women in their section.

    I’m not thankful for my trials, but so very grateful for the blessings they bring to my life and soul.

    * * *
    I know who Corey Tenboom was and I’m familiar with her sotry. I have one of her books in a stack of other books waiting to be read. Some day.

  9. Wow — I think I just felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Thank you for being a tool Antique Mommy.

    * * *
    Ha ha! In some circles, being called a tool is not a compliment! Love your sweet comment Jennifer.

  10. Beautiful post. And totally NOT about what perverted-ol’-me first thought when I read the title.

  11. When I started my blog, Not for profit, but for Joy… this topic was on my mind–
    I was looking for parents like me—but also looking for help learning how to manage …everything~
    I started off writing about my daughter’s medical trials, and now my son’s behavior trials–
    Now, I also blog about just plain old, family stuff… in the hopes, and prayers that I can profit with lessons learned from my kids, and of course other bloggers!
    So, thanks for this post I’ll take it under the profit column! 🙂
    profit column = pure joy!

  12. Thank you for the post. My daughter passed away on July 24 at 29 years old. She had a form of muscular dystrophy- was doing well one day and gone to Heaven the next. We miss her so much! My husband and I cared for her 24/7. She was such a joy! She read Christian fiction and “farmed” on Facebook. I am keeping up the “farm” for her in her memory – she would be proud. I do have so many wonderful memories.

  13. I found this beautiful blog through my sister’s Blackberry Creek site. Thanks for the wonderful message. It inspires me to think back to times of trial, and reexamine my reactions to them.

  14. I read this last week when you posted it, but didn’t have time to comment just then. The timing of this post is funny because our Bible study at church is studying James and we just went over this verse last Wednesday. I learned something new about this verse. “Consider,” in addition to the usual think-about-it meaning, also means to take command over or to determine. So we talked about how we need to determine ahead of time how we are going to respond when trials come. We are to decide to have joy beforehand, not just when it happens. I thought that was interesting.

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