Counting My Trials

Since Thanksgiving is just two days away, I thought this would be an appropriate time to count my blessings. But then, that seems a little overdone. I mean, anyone and everyone counts their blessings (otherwise known as "What I'm Thankful For") this time of year. Even people who don't profess Christ find it easy and see it as an important thing to do. We can all appreciate the good things in life, regardless of our spiritual condition. So, what makes believers different? It should be (but how often is it really?) our decision to count our joy.

This is not a new or mind-boggling concept. I've even written about it before here, but I kind of said it in a different way. However, since I'm a slow learner who is very thankful for God's patience and wonderful ability to hammer things through my thick skull in many different ways until I finally get it, I've just had an epiphany about counting my trials as joy. I am to "count it all joy...when I meet trials of various kinds." (James 1:2)

To count or consider my trials joy, it takes a conscious decision at every moment of every day to choose joy. And I must not only choose joy, but decide that my trial is ALL joy. That means none of anything else. It's only joy. This is so simple, but my life has looked and felt totally different the past two weeks as I've attempted (and done a pretty good job, I must say - thanks to the Holy Spirit, of course) to put this into practice. When I get up in the morning to lunches that need packing, tired, grumpy children who need to be fed and clothed, a ticking clock that never seems to have enough time on it...I have decided to see it as an opportunity for joy. When someone cuts me off in traffic or when I experience continual interruptions to my already busy day, I choose to find joy in it. When a particular little girl forgets all her daily responsibilities again, or when a certain unnamed 4-year-old is defiant for the 87th time that day, or when a cute but feisty toddler cries through dinner prep, dinner itself, clean-up and bath time...I make a choice that it means only joy for me. I'm telling you my life, my attitude, my mothering, my role as wife have all been changed by this simple thing. By choosing God's way.

I don't know how to explain it other than this: In the moment the trial appears, I stop. I take a step back and it's almost as if I'm viewing it from the outside. What I really think is happening is that I'm seeing my life from God's perspective, which is otherwise known as wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5 And, when I see it that way, it's easy to spot the joy in it.

God is granting me the ability to see my life as He sees it. He sees my trials as opportunities to make me more like Jesus. I've applied this to "big trials" before, but it's applying it to the everyday "little trials" that has been revolutionary for me. He sees what He wants to accomplish in me through every little situation in my life, and there is great joy in becoming like Christ. He sees the end result, the eternal result. He sees that this momentary trial is preparing me for the eternal glory and joy He has for me. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

For quite some time now, I've realized the value of viewing life from an eternal perspective - acknowledging that this life is so short that the trials and suffering here will seem like nothing compared to the everlasting peace and joy they will bring me in heaven. I just haven't been able to do it until now.

So what's the difference? Why has the light bulb finally gone off for me? All I know is in God's timing, He has answered my much-repeated prayer for wisdom just as He promises in James 1:5. That's just one of the amazing things about God...He is faithful to His Word. It won't be easy to remember to live each day with this approach...counting my trials, big and small, ALL joy. But when I do, the glory of Christ is so much more evident in my life. And since that is the goal and purpose of my life, I will seek to count away...both at this designated time of Thanksgiving and everyday the Lord sees fit to give me life and breath.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings you give me each and every day, whether they come in standard blessing form or in the form of trials. For I serve a Savior who "for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Just as the stars shine brightest in the darkest night, so your joy blazes brilliantly through life's worst problems when you count them as joy.
Elon Foster, 6000 Sermon Illustrations


  1. Beautifully written, but I’m afraid I’m going to need an addendum to this post; something in the form of an action plan or how-to. I understand the joy you could find in the “cries through dinner prep… bath time” – a toddler who is physically able to cry and express himself/herself (no toddler was named in your story), ears that can hear those cries, a house with walls that prevent neighbors from calling DFS because of the crying, etc. What I need to know is once you find the joy in it, what actions do you then take? I’m guessing “IF YOU DON’T STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW…” isn’t one. Addendum, please… :-)

  2. Sorry I haven't replied. I've been to busy NOT finding joy in any trials this week. So, after I choose the joy, it really just allows me to make the appropriate parenting decision. If there is crying that is just from being tired and grumpy, I ignore it and imagine heaven (where there is not crying) :) or I take that tired toddler, put him in his room and close the door so the crying is a little farther away. (I'm thinking of when I'm trying to cook dinner.) If it's a disobedient child, I use appropriate discipline, but without the usual anger and screaming that sometimes occur on my part. When I'm counting things as joy, I am able to come to a logical, less emotional conclusion as to how I should respond. I don't fly off the handle when someone accidentally spills something or yell at them just for being loud, annoying kids. (Not that I know any kids like that.) Does any of this make sense? Bascically, I act like I should instead of reacting in anger or emotion.


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