Count It All Joy – Three Types of Trials

How do you count it all joy?

“Count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…”  Jame 1:2

Really?  Did Paul really mean that we should count all our trials as joy?

The way I look at it, if we are not in a trial, good for us!  I hate to break the news, and I am not trying to put a damper on our day, but we are probably on our way into a trial if my past experience has any merit in predicting future experiences.  Our lives are beautiful, amazing and precious, but I’m telling the brutal and graceful truth.

Three kinds of ‘various’ trials.

Readily three kinds of trials come to mind:

First: Oh, really was that a trial?  God sure brought me/us through that!

I look back and see that a trial slid by nearly unnoticed because God’s faithfulness and grace were so strong that he protected me and my loved ones in a miraculous way.  OK, I can count that joy while in the midst of a trial!  Joy even fills my heart in these situations.

Example.   Recently, I was stranded in my van unable to start the car or open the doors due to a malfunction with my complex system.  A call for help and a couple hours of perseverance took care of the problem.  Although I missed an appointment, gratitude for a shaded garage and a friendly, generous neighbor abounded!  Now that could’ve been a different type of trial! In fact, later a friend said she was amazed that I did not break down or cry or lose it emotionally during the event.

Second:  Lord, I know you will bring me/us through this.  I can give thanks in all circumstances!

Other times I find myself looking for the best way to cope or deal with a difficulty.  I go about my business with family and friend’s support, prayer, counsel, scripture meditation and memorization, and ride the struggle to victory.

Example.  When I had my accident and paralysis we all knew it was life changing and horrible.  But as you can see from my Life Can Turn on a Dime series, through the ups and downs God’s grace abounded and hope was nearly always within reach.

Third: Not sure I can take this anymore.  What do you mean count it all joy?

Finally, there are those trials that just seem to beat us down. Usually this type of trial includes ourselves and/or someone we hold most dear in our hearts. A death, divorce, illness, struggle to have a child, etc. can fall into this category.  When they come I’d like quick deliverance by all means! But ‘quick deliverance’ doesn’t often come.

Example.  Simultaneous chronic health issues experienced by my husband and me wore us both out. It’s hard when our pain affects others day after day.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep suffering when healing evades us, hope is dim and pain is deep.  Moment by moment and day by day is the best I can do to move forward.

This kind of fiery trial continually asks us to look for His refinement, to look for the unexpected and unanticipated goodness, and to consider the testing as an opportunity for a break through of faith…and maybe an opportunity to learn.


I’m still learning about trials and would love to hear about your experiences and how you view counting it ALL joy.

Knowing that God is faithful,


When Joy is Hard to Find – Advent Devotional Week 3

When Joy is Hard to Find  – Advent Devotional Week 3

Even though the third week of Advent highlights the spirit of joy that Christ brings into the world there’s no doubt that our human nature finds it hard to grasp joy in the midst of trauma, tragedy, suffering and sorrow. We have seen the devastation of children caught in this world’s evil and my own recent experiences with friends who have difficulties – be it sickness, impending grief, loneliness or shattered relationships – highlights that it is the time of year when sorrows and frustrations are magnified.

Yet in the midst of trouble there is hope for joy. It’s a tenacious joy you experience that’s not necessarily “happiness” but you know you are walking on the road you are currently called to walk…even when it hurts…even when it means putting one foot in front of the other moment by moment to get to the next day and next year, trusting in God’s faithfulness.

As we prepare to remember, reflect, and celebrate the gift of our Savior, I ponder that night we often call a silent night, a holy night. Indeed it was a holy night, but I would venture to say it might not have been a silent one as there were groans of childbirth and the hustle and bustle of a busy town all around.  Chaos prevailed as sojourners returned  to Bethlehem for the census.  People were tired and frustrated from many days of difficult travel.

….And then without fanfare hope, love, joy and peace humbly came to earth for us.

Today I pray that our eyes can see and ears can hear what the Spirit may be saying to us about our upcoming week and about our preparations for a new year. I need the encouragement of the Holy Spirit to ground me and keep me focused and to help me curtail my times of complaint and ingratitude:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  John 14:26

Holy Spirit, remind us of what you have taught us and help us to live our lives for your people and your purposes. Thank you for the opportunity you give us to comfort those who mourn and bless those in need. Let us be your vessels of hope, love, joy and peace.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:12, 15

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15 :13  

Fourth week of Advent – Peace!

It was September 1999 after Brent and I had dated for 2 1/2 years when, in typical female style, I wanted commitment. Although I was crazy about him, my peace with our relationship was waning. Brent was understandably cautious about taking the ‘marriage’ plunge with
anyone, much less a gal with my disability…yet I needed to get commitment or back off and regroup. That was when, after much prayer and agony, I talked to Brent about a ‘break’. It was a difficult but healthy time for both of us. When Brent called me a week after our ‘break’ started to ask me out it was almost impossible to say no, but God gave me the strength to do it. Test – passed!

Even though this ‘break’ was rife with sadness, I had peace. No matter what happened I knew we would both be fine – whether together or not.  My heart dealt with grieving the potential loss of Brent as well as the loss of my mom four months earlier.  It was my relationship with God and love for wisdom that gave me the strength to make a tough choice. I knew that peace within is not a mere absence of grief or difficulty, but an active experience of following God that promotes peace regardless of circumstances.

As we light the advent candles we remember that Christ’s birth set the stage to bring us life with hope, love, joy and peace. He is ever present in our times of grief and difficulty. I can’t help but pause to think of those who struggle to celebrate this season because they grieve.

The focus of peace reminds me to find gratitude and celebrate by making choices – wise choices – that may be tough but bear good fruit. Peace is present when we choose to thank, choose to let go of fear, and choose to trust the One and Only – especially in our grief and heartache – and even if it means a girl might never get married or never walk again!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Obviously, the story of our relationship ended in marraige…we took our healthy ‘break’ and after a couple months began to see each other again. To my complete surprise within two months Brent proposed! I think I said something like ‘Huh? Are you sure you want to get married?’ Oh yeah, then I said ‘Yes!’.

As we approach Christmas  ‘may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 NIV

Would love to hear about your difficult, yet ‘peace-full’ circumstances…

Third week of Advent – Joy!

We are two weeks away from Christmas! Are you ready? Have you experienced hope and love as we intentionally take time to reflect on the season? This week’s advent focus is joy! Today we light the candle of hope, the candle of love and the candle representing joy!

I’m grateful for the focus of joy because even though this season has been overflowing with joy, today, for no reason I could pinpoint, I lacked joy. Pondering, I was reminded of Psalm 126. This psalm encouraged me and refocused my heart on joy. Here’s an excerpt:

“The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:3

During times when we don’t ‘feel’ so joyous, contemplating our blessings, especially the blessing of our ‘come to earth’ Saviour, is sure to help us reframe and refocus.

Let us rejoice this week!

Let us choose to thank.
Let us choose to forgive.
Let us choose to hope.
Let us choose to love.
Let us choose joy.
He has done great things!

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the rock eternal! ” Isaiah 26:4.

Let us choose to trust.
Let us laugh with those who laugh and comfort those who mourn.
He has done great things!

Let us smile and appreciate our friends and family….my precious friend Andrea loving on Tahoe warms my heart with pure joy!

Let us sing songs of joy!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

How are you fairing this week? Won’t you choose hope, love and joy with me?

The Lord has done great things! Joy to the world!
Choosing Joy!