Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thanking God for the Joys and the Trials

The next letter on my Contentment Acrostic is "T" - and I filled in the phrase: Thanking God for the Joys and the Trials. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this post!)

Well we know that it is really easy to thank God for the Joys in life! I am so thankful when my 2 year old hugs me and says "I love you mommy". Or when my little 9 1/2 month old greets me with the biggest 2 tooth grin. Or when I hear them both playing and giggling in the other room! My heart melts and I pray with more earnestness than I ever have, "Thank You Lord! Thank you so much for these little blessings!"

But what about thanking God for the trials in life?
    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.
    (James 1:2-4 ESV)

One thing I have been learning is that each stage of life has it's joys and it's trials...and that's a good thing! James tells us that these trials lead to steadfastness and eventually to perfection! But remembering to find that joy in the midst of it all sure can be a struggle. 

Am I always joyful when my toddler pees in her underwear for the 2nd or 3rd time today!!??
Am I always joyful when the children wake up earlier from their naps than I expected??
Do I always remember the happy moments when baby is teething and cranky??

Paul says:

    I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

Even when faced with poverty, imprisonment, lack of food, extremely painful persecution, etc. Paul finds all of his strength and joy in our Lord Jesus Christ and this is his secret to contentment. 
{In perspective, Cranky children seem like a breeze!}

And here is the thing that really hits home for me! 
If I am not finding my joy in Christ alone:
                Rebekah being potty trained is not going to make me more joyful 
                Well-slept children is not going to make me more joyful
                And despite what I may believe during these moments, Having the children all grown up and moved out of the house is also not going to make me joyful.
Finding joy in Christ during all of the crazy ups and downs of life is the only solution. It is the only way to have true happiness. It is the only way to be truly content. 

And, as I have been learning in John Piper's  book "When I don't desire God", finding joy in Christ (even in our trials!) is not just something we should do or something that might be a nice thing to do if we want to be happy...It is something that is commanded! As we can see earlier in Phil. 4, Paul says:  

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

If this is a commandment that we need to obey, doesn't that mean that we are sinning when we are not finding our Joy in Christ? When we are not being thankful for the joys and the trials of our life, is it a sin? While it may be a hard thing to swallow, I believe that it is a truth that we must admit. We must confess it and repent of it!

And when we do repent of our ingratitude toward God and when we do start to see the Joy amidst our trials...when we do start to see our trials themselves as Joy...and when we do start to see Christ as our strength and someone to take Joy in...

Then I believe with the help of Christ, 
we have made another step forward 
on our Journey to Contentment.

              Growing Home
              Modest Mom


Jacquie said...

This is so true! One of the best life lesson's I learned was from my humble grandmother. She grew up in severe poverty and was shunned due to being born out of wedlock. whenever we would complain about something she would always ask" is so and so healthy? Does so and so have a job? Do you have food? Well she didn't have to say anymore for us to get the hint!

Anonymous said...


What a timely reminder. So often we put all our hopes for happiness or joy in things that can never satisfy, then we find that even the good times are not able to be fully enjoyed because idols always cause heartache. Thank you for pointing my eyes to Christ, through whom I can enjoy the pleasant and seek God's face in the trial - and find contentment in all.


Niki said...

Yes Jaquie, there is so much to be thankful for! Many of the elderly among us have had to live with much less and learn to be thankful for it. There is much that we can learn from them!

Melissa, thanks for the comment! When we find our happiness in something/someone other than Christ it most certainly is an idol! I hadn't really thought of it that way, but you are right, heartache is the result!