When we go through the struggles and challenges of life, we often ask why or wonder whether we have done something wrong. Is God punishing us? What have we done wrong? Where is God?

Trials come to us all. Some have serious health issues. Some have family crises. Some know the pain of being abused or treated unfairly. Some have profound challenges when serving the Lord. Some children and students are bullied or ridiculed. Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12).

If you want a comfortable life don’t follow Jesus. Followers of Jesus are not sheltered from trials or granted some kind of immunity from them.

However, in the purposes of God, the most painful times of our life may become the most fruitful. James 1:2, the apostle James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

What does he mean by this? How can we be joyful when we are suffering?

Biblical joy is not the emotion of feeling happy. No one enjoys suffering, but we are to take comfort in understanding the bigger picture. As followers of Christ, we are to trust our good and all-powerful God. His plans and purposes are being worked out in our lives. In the darkest times, we learn to trust God in deeper and deeper ways. Our faith is strengthened. We are better able to serve and comfort others.

You may be facing a trial right now. Stand strong! Don’t be overcome by self-pity. Don’t be bitter. Don’t run from God. Rejoice in what He’s accomplishing in your life. Trust in His purposes and humbly ask for His wisdom in how to deal with these trials in practical ways.

What am I saying? Trials and temptations come to us all. Don’t be surprised by them. And don’t be defeated. Count it all joy. God is greater than all your temptations and trials, and He will give you all the strength you need. Focus on living a God-centered life and you will find peace and joy in the midst of the storm.

John Munro

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