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Finding Real Joy in the Midst of a Painful Trial


James gives us an extremely counterintuitive command from God:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

How can we possibly find joy in the midst of pain, suffering, obstacles, challenges, failures, sickness, brokenness, injuries and problems? That doesn’t sound right at all. Shouldn’t he say something like, “Ask God, and He will immediately remove all your trials, pain and suffering so you can be happy again”? We would like that much better! (The Idol of Happiness)

The trial our family has been going through for these past 8 days, with our beautiful little kitten, Silver, going missing, is a very small trial in the scheme of things. Yes, it is painful for us – but there are many of you facing infinitely more difficult trials than this. But I believe that the process of approaching our trials is the same as we seek to honor, trust and obey God – whatever the trial may be. Sometimes these smaller trials give us the practice and strength we need to face later, more severe trials. How we handle the small trials is how we will handle the bigger trials.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Luke 16:10

Here are some things to ask ourselves as we face trials, problems, impossible difficulties, pain, sickness, financial burdens, relationship problems, work issues, church disagreements, family issues and every other kind of trial:

  • Am I going to allow this trial take away the power and fruit of God’s Spirit in my life?
  • How might God want to use this trial for His good purposes?
  • What opportunities might God give me to model walking-by-faith to those around me (including my husband and children) during this time?
  • How can I cling more tightly than ever to Christ? How can I spend more time in His Word and more time in prayer?
  • What passages in Scripture might God want to use to speak to me during this time?
  • Maybe God wants to use this painful situation to bring someone or several people or many many people to Christ or to deepen the faith of other people or myself? I want to be fully available for God to use me to speak through me to others.
  • What does God desire me to learn here?
  • Am I open to everything God might be speaking to me right now?
  • What might God desire me to show and teach our children as we walk through this painful time?

Some ways I can respond in joy in a trial include:

  • sing praise songs to God often and teach my children to turn to praising God at all times, including in times of suffering
  • write out my thoughts, praises and thanksgiving to God in my prayer journal – focusing on the good gifts God has given to us, on His character, His sovereignty, His provision, His power and ability to do infinitely more than all we could ask, hope for or imagine
  • focus on God’s extravagant love for me and for others
  • focus on Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

  • remember that time is short, life is precious and each moment here is a gift that I do not want to waste or squander
  • write out my requests to God and lay them at His feet
  • study 1 Peter, Job, James 1 and all of the Scripture references to suffering and trials
  • teach my children about the power of prayer
  • learn from the ways that others minister to me that are a blessing and imitate the way they give comfort when I find others who are hurting
  • learn from the ways that others attempt to minister to me that are hurtful and be sure to avoid those approaches when I see others who are hurting
  • remember that we only really grow in times of trial, not when things are going well
  • read about the importance of pruning a fruit tree and relating that to the blessings and benefits of spiritual pruning as God prunes my life and my heart
  • allow my soul to rest in God’s peace instead of slipping into worry and anxiety – take time to be still before God and just listen and soak in His love
  • allow myself to feel my emotions and feelings (not run from them), process them, and take them to God
  • focus on keeping my eyes on Christ and on obeying Him
  • talk, think, and pray about how God might use this trial for His glory and our ultimate good and the good of His kingdom and look forward with great anticipation to all He has planned through this time of suffering
  • realize that it is in times of trial that I most realize exactly how desperately dependent I am on God and how little control I have in this life
  • allow God to shape, mold and chisel my heart, refining my faith and motives
  • be thankful for the opportunity for my faith to stretch and grow
  • be thankful for the chance to practice resting in God’s love, sovereignty and peace in the midst of prolonged uncertainty
  • anticipate the good purposes of God that will be birthed through this trial
  • write down the good things I see happening from the trial and praise and thank God for them
  • sympathize with and minister to others who are going through similar trials
  • hold the results of the situation loosely in my hands, accept whatever answer God might choose to give and His timing, even if His ways don’t match my desires, trust that His wisdom is infinitely higher than my own
  • look for opportunities to share the power, love and truth of God with others as I hurt (other people are a lot more open to our sharing about Christ when we are in the midst of trials and personal suffering – the pain and the trial gives much more weight and power to our words)
  • be thankful for the chance to learn perseverance and to wait patiently as God causes my pain to do its holy work in my life, if it is His will for me to walk through this valley
  • desire to not miss one drop of the spiritual blessings God desires for me to experience in the trial – the closeness to Him, the ability to learn more, the chance to deepen my faith, the love and care of friends and family, the learning God has in store, the growth that will come, the blessing I can be to others


Spiritual Pruning 

A Test

ROMANS 8:18, 28-39 (These are PROMISES of God to those who love, trust, seek and obey Him and are filled with His Spirit)

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


How have you experienced joy in the midst of a painful trial? What blessings did God pour out on you that you could never have experienced otherwise? How do you seek to approach trials with joy now?

25 thoughts on “Finding Real Joy in the Midst of a Painful Trial

  1. No, I refuse… He just gives me too much. I am just through. I cannot trust him. Remember, when I was struggling…. did God help… NO NO NO… He put my husband in the hospital in critical condition and now I must take care of him. I’m done. Just done.

    1. Elizabeth,

      Oh no!!!!!!!

      What happened, my precious friend? Are you able to talk about it? I’m here to listen and hug your neck (through the computer) if you would like.

      When did this happen?

      Are you getting any rest at all?

      Praying for you and your husband – for spiritual and physical healing.

      With much love,

    2. Elizabeth, I am praying for you. I am 19 weeks pregnant and just found out a few days ago that my baby will not live (it’s severely deformed). I am devastated, but God knows what He is doing. Even during this time of pain, I give it to Him because He gives strength, comfort and peace. When we feel like it’s too much, He will carry us and we need to lean on Him.

      1. Dear Laura, you and your family are in my prayers. Your faith is priceless and precious. I thank Jesus for the comfort He is giving you, and will continue to give through this!

        Elizabeth, I pray that you will find that Jesus can be this same strength for you as well through this storm. In your struggles, please stay connected to us here at Peacefulwife. You are not alone!

        Love to you both,

    3. Elizabeth,
      I have been thinking of you and your husband and praying for you both often. Praying for you to know the love and power of God in a more tangible way than ever. Praying for His comfort and healing. Praying for you to allow God to hold your broken heart and to bind and heal it. Praying for you to receive God’s supernatural peace and joy. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus has come to give you spiritually abundant life.

      Sending a huge hug! I wish I could sit with you and hug your neck and cry with you today.

  2. What a great post April! Sometimes it is hard to find things to be thankful for when going through a trial; but it so worth finding those things. God is so faithful. I often think that trials are reminders that we aren’t home yet…but God is so faithful; I love the verses that speak of His unfailing love – especially during a trial. I find comfort in just knowing that He knows our pain (I think even better than we do).

    Keeping Elizabeth in my prayers….And your family as well April.

  3. Yes… Trials are a great blessing if we choose to stay close to God and trust Him through it. This is where the JOY of the LORD is our strength.

    My Husband walked out on me and our 5 childrn 3 months ago. We are expecting our 6th child in Feb too.

    The children and I were absolutely shocked and crushed…. Abandoned, rejected…. By a Husband and Dad we never thought would ever do such a thing! His reason “He is not happy….doesn’t want to be head of the family/leader of the home, doesn’t know if he believes in God anymore!????”

    Now 3 months later a wonderful website/ministry has helped me in my hardest trial and their radio station “Stop Divorce Radio” I play 24/7 filling my heart and spirit constantly with God’s truth, word, encouragement!!
    I highly recommend everyone listen to it even if you think you’re marriage is fine (like I did!)

    In your trial Jesus is the way, the truth and the life …. If He is for you who can be against you?! Without Jesus…. You have emptiness…looking to the world for answers and eventually ending up with NOTHING. No peace, no rest, no true happiness.

    The armor of God is the answer in my trial. Read Ephesians. Be blessed and please pray for my family and restoration of our marriage.
    And all marriages around the world struggling!!

    1. Tania,
      Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so very sorry to hear about what is going on with your husband. How I pray God will open his eyes and bring him back to Himself and to you and your children.

      Thank you for sharing your incredibly big faith – what a blessing it is to hear you talk about your trust in Jesus! I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you, my precious sister!

    2. Oh sweet Tania. I’m so sorry. My heart breaks for your family. Your story though is one of the reasons I have a very hard time giving 100% of myself to my husband through submission as April encourages. I don’t know if I will ever be able to put that much trust in someone when there’s a chance he could leave. Satan loves nothing more than seeing families, especially Christian families, break up. I will be praying for you, your husband and your children. God bless you!

      1. Tiffany,
        Thanks for reaching out to Tania. 🙂

        You know what, my sweet girl? Your husband can potentially hurt you whether you are walking in obedience to God or not. If you withhold yourself, refuse to trust God, refuse to obey God, try to maintain control, try to be in charge and disrespect your husband – you are actually very likely to contribute to him wanting to leave.

        Interestingly, when we walk in obedience to God in the power of His Spirit trusting Him wholeheartedly – He is able to do miracles and bring healing in ways we could never have brought to our marriages on our own.

        Your trust, ultimately, would be in Christ. If something tragic were to happen or your husband were to sin against you – you will know that Jesus and His Spirit will empower you and walk with you through it and brings something beautiful from it.

        We think we can maintain control and insulate ourselves from negative consequences if we try to do things our way, but, we cannot. Thankfully, no matter what our husbands do, God will reward us for our obedience to Him when we stand before Him in heaven.

        Much love!!!
        Thanks for praying for Tania with us. 🙂

        1. I’ve learned a lot from this site. I appreciate all you do. I am respectful to my husband in many ways. I ask before I purchase things or where he would like to go or eat or whatever on the week or weekends. I do not demean him in front of others. I cook, keep a clean home, take care of our boys and pretty much take care of most everything around here. I also work part-time and try to look nice when we are out. I’m very careful about so many things. I never want to embarrass him. But I cannot put 100% trust in him making all the decisions for our family and leaving it. To me that isn’t a partnership. And maybe you wouldn’t agree that marriage is a partnership? I don’t know. But I do know that if God forbid he did leave me I would be hurt but after a period of time I would be ok because I can make decisions.

          I saw this happen with my grandmother. When my grandfather died she was devastated and not just because he wouldn’t be here. She knew nothing of their finances or of most everyday decisions because he did it all. Granted she never went without. My grandfather was very generous to her with material things. But I can’t help but wonder if she had been more knowledgeable and prepared that she wouldn’t have had such a hard time.

          1. Tiffany,

            Your feelings are important – and I believe it is your responsibility to share your desires, your emotions, your needs, your concerns and ideas respectfully. I have a number of posts about this if you are interested, please let me know. You can check out “A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage.” But please also check out “Spiritual Authority” to see, what I believe is, a balanced view of what God-given authority looks like in our lives.

            Having a husband be accountable and responsible for headship does not mean a wife should know nothing or contribute nothing or that the marriage is not a partnership. Those details can be worked out in individual marriages. I have access to our financial records. I used to pay the bills but now Greg does because it wasn’t working well years ago for me to tell him what to do. I have plenty of say in our decisions. Greg listens to my feelings and cares very much about my happiness and desires. Marriage is a partnership where both people are of equal worth, value and dignity and both seek the highest good of the other. But, ultimately, our trust is not in our husbands, but rather in God and His sovereignty to lead us through our husbands even if we do not agree with a particular decision.

            If a husband is asking his wife to clearly sin, that issue is addressed in detail in Spiritual Authority. Also, how to make an appeal to a person in a position of authority is addressed in that post, as well.

            Much love!

  4. Thank you for this important post. It’s not easy to see joy when you’re going through a trial. I’m going through a rough time myself so I’m doing my best to trust that the Lord will see me through this. I’m learning not to focus on the problem but instead to give my trials to God. I can’t do this without Him.

  5. Thankyou for this powerful post. God be with in your trials that you might be facing today. Amen.
    This post has taught me how to word my emotions and thow yo address them to God. I praise Yahu. Once I thought that God had allowed persecution to seperate me from His love! Persecution came to bme because my blood mother. She is emotionally unstable and wont allow Christ to heal her. like she likes to be in the pity parlor mode… She always complained to me that b. asically she didnt undertan.basicallyd why he bless me with certain spiritual gifts before her..she had to come first. That i was imperfect how I was tooo “innocent” now that was 14 years ago…she did more subtle wicked things to me…as in indirectly . She slandered my name to my leaders so they didnt allow me to cintinue in the praise and worhip tem just to name a few. . And fter many years…her heart is still the same…she wont grow and she stll despises me. She is wicked because she allowed jealousy to take over jer heart. god gave me a dream and showed me what exactl was inmymothers heainrt towards me…!!! Back ten I didnt know how to handle all the brothers and sisters persecuting me “correcting ” me for things that I knew I was not commiting but they awere only working for the “behind the scenes ” woman, my mother. So basicalyy mother in the flesh was against me continues to persecute e BUT NOW IT WONT TAKE A TOLL ONme. I wil do the right thing to PERSERVERE through this feiry trial. Amen. For if my mother or

    1. Irma,
      Goodness, what a difficult situation, to face persecution from your own family. Jealousy and bitterness are very toxic. 🙁 They destroy relationships.

      James 3:16 says: For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

      So true.

      How I pray that you continue to cling to Christ. He may work through you to draw your family to Himself. Romans 12:9-21 is a godly way to respond to those who hate and persecute us.

      You may also want to search the following terms on my home page, my precious sister:

      – bitterness
      – forgiveness
      – playing the martyr
      – control and boundaries
      – people pleasing
      – using guilt to manipulate

      Praying for God to soften your family’s hearts to Himself and for them to find His abundant life and healing. And praying most of all for His power and strength for you to be faithful to Him and obedient to Him no matter what circumstances you face.

      Much love to you!

  6. We always have the choice to obey God or to disobey God. We have free will and we can choose to trust Him or we can choose not to trust Him.

    There are very specific consequences when we choose obedience and trust and faith – and specific promises of God we can claim when we choose that road. It is only when we do trust and obey God that we get to experience His Spirit filling us with power, the fruit of His Spirit (His love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness and self-control). It is only when we are walking in obedience and faith and trust that we get to see Him do miracles on our behalf. And it is only when we are walking in obedience and trust that we get to cling to the conditional promises He gives us. Like Romans 8:28-29 – that God will use all things for the ultimate good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

    We can absolutely choose not to trust God. God is a Gentleman. He will not force Himself on us. We can abandon Him. We can choose not to obey Him. We can choose to trust ourselves or something or someone else. But, as we read in Scripture the examples of the children of Israel in the Old Testament as well as people in the New Testament – the consequences of not trusting and not obeying God are never good – here or in eternity.

    We cannot stop ourselves from suffering – whether we trust God or not. The enemy may be attacking us. Others may sin against us. Our own choices or the choices of others may have us in very painful circumstances. We will face suffering whether we trust God or not. Suffering in this world is a guarantee. But we sabotage ourselves when we forfeit the blessings, promises, benefits and power of God. We rob ourselves of so much good and the treasures of heaven when we don’t trust God. When we trust God, He promises to use the suffering we go through to strengthen, empower, build, purify, refine, prune and mature us.

    How I pray that we might each cling to Christ in great faith, and that we might experience His power daily in our lives. I pray for His greatest glory in our lives and that He might empower us to be faithful and obedient to Himself, using our lives for His kingdom.

    Much love to each of you!

    1. As we know God more and trust Him, His perfect love melts away our fears. Not that we don’t have to face our greatest fears, but His love overpowers them even as we face our fears. We can be confident that He is greater than anything we could be afraid of. We know that His heart is good and that He cannot do evil to us. The enemy may do evil to us. People may do evil. But we can always trust God and His heart for our ultimate good by God’s definition. This means our eternal good.

    2. This was word was right on time April! Thank you! I’m clinging to God now and enjoying these promises during separation from my husband. I see small victories daily in my ability to face this trial, hope for future, greater intimacy with God, and victories in praying for my husband also! God is real and oh is he so faithful!

      1. Crystal,
        WOOHOO! I praise God with you! I know this is a fiery trial. But I also know that God is doing and will do so many good things to bring you healing during this time. Praying for you, my sweet sister!

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