Joy in trials? It’s one of those things that we as Christians know we’re supposed to have but often don’t. If Christians are characterized by their enduring joy, we think to ourselves, then why does this trial seem anything BUT joyful? How do we truly cherish our trials?
Trials are painful things, there is no denying that. Hebrew 12:11 admits this: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant…” So, how can trials be joyous? Hebrews 12:11 also answers that question by revealing that trials produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Consider also what Paul and James say about cherishing trials.
“...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Rom 5:3-4)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)
Joy in trials is rooted in the knowledge of what trials produce in our lives.
Trials serve a very specific, joy-inducing purpose: it makes us more like Christ. And although this may sound cliché, this very reality is the reason why you and I can cherish our trials. In fact, this truth, once embraced, surpasses the typical responses we might have to trials.
This truth produces joy in trials that is greater than simply hoping that it will soon pass. Knowing that God is using this trial to produce Christlikeness in your life gives you a purpose for staying under the trial (James 1:4). If you only look for joy at the end of your trial, you’ll miss the joy God offers in your trial.
This truth produces joy in trials that is greater than saying, “I don’t know what God is doing, but I know he has a plan.” Although you may not know the specifics of his plan, you actually do know his plan. His Word has already told you. Whether you’re battling cancer, mourning the loss of a loved one, or searching for employment, you can know, without a doubt, what God is doing in your life. There is no question marks or head-scratching here. He’s using this trial to fashion you more into the image of his Son.
This truth produces joy in trials that is greater than simply looking past them. It’s looking your trial square in the face, recognizing its purpose, and cherishing it. This trial is enslaved to your Savior. What would normally be seen as an enemy has now defected to your Heavenly Father and is being used to accomplish his plan of fashioning you into the image of his Son. This trial is pushing you toward Christ. So don’t look past it--embrace it
This is why Paul said in Romans 8 that “for those who love God all things work together for good….For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (v 28-29).
Christian, this trial is good. It is a gift. It is making you more like your Savior.
But here’s the catch: having joy in the midst of trials depends on how much you value Christlikeness. So ask yourself, is Christlikeness something I actually want?
If Christlikeness doesn’t excite you, you’ll never experience joy in trials. But if you, through God’s grace, deeply cherish Christ, then you’ll deeply cherish Christlikeness. And if you deeply cherish Christlikeness, you’ll find value in the trials of life which help you grow in that Christlikeness.
Trials cease to be an enemy and they become an ally.
Trials cease to work against you and they start working for you.
There is joy in trials, and it’s a joy that’s only possible for the Christian. So whether you’re in a trial right now, or waiting for one to happen, ask God to create a deep passion for becoming more like his Son. Dig into his Word to develop a yearning for who he is and what he is doing in your life. Desire nothing more than to desire him more.
If you do, you will one day look back on your trial and remember it only as a cherished memory.
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