The Joy in the Rain

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Contributed by Heather Ward, wife of Toby Ward, Elder Overseer of Outreach at Image Church

Four years ago, I grabbed my 4 month old son and hopped in the back of the car, as my sister-in-law rushed my brother who was very sick and in immense pain to the hospital.  Ironically, the radio was playing the song, “Bring the Rain by Mercy Me – a song which is about trials being brought into your life to bring you closer to God.  For my family and I at this point in our lives, it was definitely “raining.”  My 38 year old brother had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was soon going home to be with the Lord, and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do about it – except turn to Jesus.  Jesus was testing my faith.

In James 1:2-4 it says: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Trials can be defined as “a state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance or belief.”  Our natural reaction to pain or anguish is definitely not JOY!!! Our natural reaction is that of despair and to turn to self, which leads us nowhere but down a slippery slope of depression and hopelessness.  However, in James 1 we are told as Christians to make a conscious choice to face our trials, not just with our head up and looking to Jesus, but with JOY!  What kind of joy are we supposed to have in the midst of suffering? The joy that we don’t have to rely on self, but that God is sovereign and in control.  The joy of knowing this trial does not define us, but Christ does.  The joy that each and every trial we go through refines us and readies us for our Savior.  Finally, the joy that the victory has been won, and that we will be spending eternity with our Savior.  How can we not have joy considering those things?  We should be filled with joy no matter if we are in a trial or not. 

Even Jesus himself endured the cross for us with joy according to Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus found Joy in knowing He was accomplishing God’s will by paying our debt to set us free.

We, too, should approach our trials the same way – by looking for the joy and the end result, instead of wading in a pool of self pity.  Our trials are minuscule in comparison with Christ enduring the cross.  Jesus has given us the perfect example on how to handle our trials, but His perfect example is not only that.  Rather, it is something far greater – the perfect complete substitution for our sin.

I miss my brother dearly, but knowing that God was and is in control gives me joy.  Also knowing that my brother is pain free and with our Savior in Heaven gives me joy.

I encourage you to have joy about whatever trials you may be or will be going through.  The process of going through these trials, as painful as they may be, can draw us closer to God and make us who God wants us to be if we let Him.  So count it all JOY!

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