Choosing joy in the midst of difficult circumstances is not always easy, but it is what the Lord commands us to do.
We are told in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” We can rejoice no matter what circumstance comes our way, because of the great love that Jesus has for us, in that while we were full of sin, he choose to lay down his life to save us. Jesus has forgiven our sins and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Through his death, burial, and resurrection we have divine power to choose joy, no matter our circumstance.
In the 45 years I have been alive, I have experienced many difficult trials. From having the monumental task of raising a special needs son, to the death of those closest to me—my Mom and Dad, my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, my brother, several babies, and dear friends. Other tragic situations happened as well, like family problems, marriage problems, health problems, terrible accidents, financial difficulties, church splits, and just the overall effects of sin in a lost and fallen world. Life can be downright difficult, and if you have walked on this earth very long, I can guarantee that you have had some sort of trouble in your life.
We learn in James 1:2-5 (ESV) to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
We all face trials of different kinds. Our struggles and challenges may be similar or different than our friends’ and neighbors’, but we all face difficult times. These challenges test our faith, and as we endure these trials it produces a life of faithful endurance. That steadfastness then helps make us more Christlike and conforms us to the image of God, which is a gift from God to make us whole and bring us to maturity in our spiritual walk.
Horatio Spafford penned the beautiful lyrics to the song “It is Well with My Soul” after a Job-like tragedy struck his life when he lost his son at age two in the Great Chicago Fire. The fire financially ruined him and then shortly afterward, all four of his daughters perished in a shipwreck crossing the Atlantic. Horatio could have become consumed with anger, bitterness or regret, yet he chose to have joy and to praise the Lord! In this life we will have struggles, but how will we respond? We will choose joy? May we learn from his example!
“It is Well with My Soul”
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Was nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so it is well with my soul!