Finding Joy in the Midst of Difficult Circumstances

March 7, 2017

If you’ve been a follower of Christ for some time, you may already feel like skipping this blog post, based on the title! Many sermons have been spoken on this topic and I’m sure we will continue to hear more throughout our walk.

But it’s an important idea when we are working through our current series, “The Message of Habakkuk: When Your Circumstances Challenge the Promises of God.”

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I have been experiencing challenges in employment and finances. The book of Habakkuk has been a timely reminder for me to “walk by faith” during this time. But things have gotten worse. My mom ended up in the hospital last week, and the doctors are still trying to figure out what is wrong. She was supposed to move to Ohio (where I live) from New York next Friday! My siblings and I have had to push back her move date and we aren’t even sure yet if she will be physically able to handle the move even then. It’s an uncertain time, and I already have the job uncertainty in my life to deal with. I have found myself pleading to God, “Please deliver me from this soon, because I don’t know how much more I can handle!”

Today, as I was doing my Bible devotion time, I was reminded of James 1:2-4, “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.”

Then, I opened my daily email, “Encouragement for Today” and guess what verse was being discussed? James 1:2! Obviously the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something!

The blogger wrote of a time similar to mine, when it seemed there was trouble at every turn. She turned to James and felt, as I did, that there was no way she could possibly find joy in her trials! But she wrote of a change of attitude that helped her realize it was “doable.”

Habakkuk, too, was in anguish over what was happening to his people under the persecution of the Babylonians, and that’s why he asked God, WHY? And God answers him, this week, by reminding Habakkuk that judgment is coming to the Babylonians, and calls Habakkuk to faithfully believe God’s promise to make things right in HIS perfect timing.

So for many of us, the question becomes not WHY, but WHEN? That was my question to God – how long must I endure this? James reminds us that there is a purpose in our trials – to produce steadfastness. Merriam-Webster defines steadfastness as “immovable” and also as “firm in belief.” We see throughout scripture reminders for us to stand firm. In Exodus 14:13. Moses tells the Israelites to “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.” The famous “Armor of God” section in Ephesians reminds us to “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14)

So God is using our trials to bring us closer to the likeness of his Son Jesus, and will end it when we “let steadfastness have its full effect” making us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

We aren’t supposed to be joyful of our circumstances, but of the fruit these circumstances will produce in us if we faithfully endure them, trusting in God’s perfect timing.

Stand with me today. With faith, we will make it!

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