Counting It All Joy
By: Emily Rose Massey
2016 was a hard year for me and my family. While juggling with babysitting a friend’s son who was a full-on ‘threenager,’ I walked through a really difficult mothering season with my own son, who seemed to always protest sleep since the day he was born. Every few months, he went through major sleep regressions in which he would wake up multiple times a night. Occasionally he would sleep through the night, but the night wakings always seemed to continue for weeks leading into months at a time, night after dreadful night.
About a month before he turned two, he began waking three to five times a night. This routine continued every single night for six solid months straight. We prayed (and cried), we had other people pray, we tried a sound machine, essential oils, added extra cushion to his bedding, and followed all of the pediatrician’s advice and tips. Nothing worked. Needless to say, sleep deprivation was my constant reality and it hit me hard in 2016.
From all of the hormonal imbalances and added stress from the severe, chronic sleep deprivation, along with taking on a part-time job in retail around the holidays, I experienced a chemical pregnancy and battled depression on and off for months. Our marriage was also under incredible strain because I was not myself; I was on edge or emotional all the time.
Feeling depleted and defeated was an understatement.
As a Christian, it felt like such a fight to hold onto peace, hope, and joy. Knowing that these things are not circumstantial, I really had to lean on God’s grace to get through each day.
I knew the Bible told me I needed to “count it all joy” in the midst of these trials, but I also needed God to give me eyes to see the why behind that, and empower me in the how as well.
We find in the opening of James’ letter to the tribes of Israel, after his initial greeting, he immediately begins exhorting and encouraging God’s people that the storms of life are not for no reason at all; there is a purpose within the pain.
James 1:2-3 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience…”
We know that as children of God, our Heavenly Father is allowing these trials into our lives to strengthen our faith in Him. We know He is always working things for our good (Romans 8:28). James 1:3 reveals that this sharpening or testing of our faith ‘muscles’ will produce patience in us, which is a fruit of the Spirit. God will often use painful, uncomfortable, and stressful situations to sanctify us. We can have joy knowing that these storms of life and difficulties are molding us into looking more like Christ.
Ultimately, we must remember that our joy is not anchored in this life, but most importantly, in the life to come.
When our lives are filled with trials, we must be able to look to the future—to heaven—to find the joy that can soothe our weary hearts. Our joy must be based on looking to God and to the inheritance we will receive in heaven. This is exactly what Jesus did. He was able to endure the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). We, too, must realize that the suffering we endure in this life cannot compare with the joy that is laid up for us in heaven.
To be able to count all suffering joyful, we must be able to trust God. Are you struggling with that kind of confidence in God’s goodness in all things and finding comfort in His sovereign hand in your life, even in your suffering? Ask God to help you find joy in Him alone and to give you a heavenly perspective when you are tempted to allow the present circumstances to consume you.
Emily Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20s, and published her first book in 2015. She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma while still being able to pursue her passion as a writer. Believing she has been forgiven much, she loves much, and desires to point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power, especially by sharing truth found in God’s written word. If you would like to connect with Emily, you can visit www.wewouldratherhavejesus.com.
For More Great Resources for Women, Visit iBelieve's Faith Channel.