“If I could just get through this situation, then I’d have joy.” “When I get this done, I’ll be at peace.” “When all of this is over, I’ll feel fulfilled.” Ever felt that way? I have, but we don’t have to wait until everything is just right to walk in peace, joy and fulfillment; we can walk in it right now!
In fact, the Lord tells us to “count it all joy when we meet trials of any kind.” (James 1:2 ESV). He doesn’t tell us to wait until the trial is over.
And not only does the Lord tell us to count all our trials as joy, but He also says to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
How can we give thanks if we don’t have joy?
I know you’re thinking, God can’t mean I should give thanks for this life changing diagnosis I just received. He can’t mean I should give thanks for my loved one dying. He can’t mean I should give thanks for what appears to be an irreparable marriage. What about my wayward son or daughter who’s not walking with the Lord? How can I ever give thanks or have joy about any of these circumstances?
My friend, I understand those questions so deeply in my own heart, and often wonder, Lord, how can you turn all this around for my good? But what I’ve found is that when I bring ALL things and lay them at the feet of Jesus, I can exchange my trials for joy. I can exchange them for peace. I can exchange them for the fulfillment and satisfaction only He can give me.
As I pour my heart out in prayer, He strengthens me and comforts me; not at the end of my trial, but in the messy middle, when it seems as though there is no end in sight. He reminds me that I can have a “right now” joy because He knows my end from my beginning. He has heard my prayers and not even one single tear was wasted.
So when joy seems to be elusive and fleeting, I will rejoice knowing this truth: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)