Through her tears she sobbed, "I will not give up!" I could see in her eyes she meant it. It was our last Thursday morning at Women’s Bible Study, we had just finished the lesson for the week and were writing down our prayer request. But when the sheet of paper came back to me, her name was not on it. She had already done her business at the throne of grace and a quiet resolve took the place of her request. She was still struggling with sickness, but her struggle with God had been replaced with an inner peace.
Today, my mind was drawn back to the first day of study when I read these words -
"Count it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2-3
And with the knowledge came the trials - one after another. God's word was poured into the walking of our lives, every step a realization that patience was having its perfect work within our struggles.
When God teaches, His lessons go deep. This was not going to be just another Bible Study...how could it be when it started with those words, "count it all joy when you encounter trials!" Joy in trials? We sit here now at the end of our long study together, and we have made it through the hot fire of many trials, each in our own way, and in varying degrees. Did we find the joy?
I would not have thought it possible in past days of my life but now I see it...I believe it...it is possible. I see it mostly in them, the other women sitting across the table, their trials that came in the hardest places. But God's words remained true as they always are, and we learned firsthand that joy triumphs over trials. We learned to endure...to not give up. To count it all joy!
The trials can be tiring, draining, and we sometimes fall victim to them and forget about the joy. But we have learned it and now we must own it...and He will remind us. He will strengthen us, and we will endure...with joy.
With those simple words spoken, "I will not give up!" she unknowingly added the "Amen" to the prayer we had started weeks before when we first opened our Bibles to the book of James and bowed our heads to pray. Now we close with the answer to that prayer.
...knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience, (we will) let patience have its perfect work. That we may be perfect and complete lacking nothing! James 1:3-4
I see it in them, the other women, and I am encouraged.
Are you going through something difficult...some trial? Is your faith being tested in some way? God may not choose to take you out of it, but he will give you joy in the midst of it. Joy is not dependent on the happenings in our lives…it is dependent on Jesus in our lives. With Him, we really can – “count it all joy!”