By: Cait Elswick
"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 ESV
In the middle of a storm or a desert season of life, counting it as joy can seem nearly impossible. What does it truly mean to count our trials as joy? It surely cannot mean to be happy when our hearts are shattered or to be feeling emotions of joy when life has us facing a mountain. When I began to pray and seek God’s wisdom for understanding this verse, He laid mindset and perspective heavily on my heart. The definition of the word “count” from Oxford languages refers to a mathematical term but the definitions that stood out to me were to “take into account” and “play a part in influencing”. When we apply this meaning to ‘count it all joy’ it speaks to seeing our journeys from a Godly perspective.
We can expect trials in our lives and sometimes it may seem like the storms may never cease. When we cannot control our circumstances, we still have the ability to determine our perspective and how we will ‘count’ our trials. God can do a great work through our obedience.
Trials are hard. They test our faith. They are painful and can bring us to our knees. Yet, because we have such a faithful Father, He promises to not let our pain be wasted. Our trials and pain hold a much greater purpose than we can yet see.
Walking Towards Joy
The verse says ‘knowing’ that the testing of our faith produces patience. It doesn’t tell us that the emotions will be pleasant but that it is a head and heart knowledge of assurance that it will not be in vain. It is an opportunity to choose to cling to our faith when life tries to get us to waiver. When we make a choice to allow God to use our trials as a testament of His faithfulness, we begin to see our circumstances through a new perspective. He promises to offer peace beyond what we understand and to shelter us during the storm so that we can walk in faith towards our joy.
As I went through the hardest season of my life thus far, I was able to see how this scripture applied to my circumstances and challenged my heart toward growth. My 11-year-old daughter was fighting for her life. She was diagnosed with Covid pneumonia in November of 2021 and four days later she was placed on a ventilator. The doctors told us that there was little left they could do for her and we needed to pray for her to pull through. My heart was shattered and life had brought me to my knees.
God spoke to my heart during that season, that how I would handle and view this journey was a choice. I could cave under the weight of circumstance and emotions, or I could lean into my Jesus, my only hope. Through Him, ALL things are possible. Through Him, I can count ALL things as joy. He is faithful to use our trials for His glory, as we give them to Him.
How Joy Is Found
I chose to trust Him in spite of the emotions that were threatening to overtake me. That season called me to a challenge of growing and exercising my faith. A challenge to allow God to produce a good work through me and in me. We are given opportunities to trade our emotions of fear and anxiety for a deeper trust and reliance on the One who can use ALL things for good.
It is hard to change our perspective during hard times. Especially, when emotions can so easily become our driving force. For me, it was making a choice with each thought, to make sure I was keeping my eyes on Jesus instead of the storm surrounding us. Knowing He would carry me through whatever I was facing was enough. Being able to switch our mindset to Jesus can be our greatest weapon during difficult circumstances.
The joy that awaits us is ahead. With obedience and a Godly perspective, we can walk towards that joy in faith. It is an opportunity to grow our ability to persevere in the face of adversity. A deeper trust grows from obedience. A strengthened faith results from choosing to trust God through difficult seasons. Growth in spiritual maturity is produced when we cling to our Savior and practice our faith throughout this life. In those things, I can count it all as joy through my Jesus.
A mental health therapist and mother of two, Cait has always had a heart to help and serve others. She strives to allow God to bring beauty from ashes by sharing the experiences from her life’s journey.