Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the
testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
I have read and heard this verse spoken many times in my life, and I confess that I usually would
glaze over it, finding it a bit strange and disconcerting. Count it all JOY when I encounter trials
and difficulty? I mean REALLY? How could that possibly be my response? Difficulty naturally
produces a tendency toward fear, unrest, anger, frustration etc…. but not joy. Here Saint James
points to another way, a better way, a response we can only have in union with the Holy Spirit. I
really believe we are finding ourselves in a time and situation today, where we are being pressed
in such a way that, if we allow it, this current trial we are facing will lead us to walk out and
experience the profound truth contained in this passage.
The trial that we are currently facing is truly testing and pruning us all, but in the hands of a good
Father, we know that trials are only and always allowed for our ultimate benefit. As we begin to
shift our perspective from one of lack, to one of trust in God’s constant blessing and provision, a
new perspective can begin to emerge.
I challenge us all today to spend some time in prayer seeking God for what blessings he has for
us on the other side of this trial that could lead us the response of joy that this passage of
scripture tells us is possible. We know that to access this joy, it’s going to require faith and
perseverance. In other words, it won’t be easy; so, don’t expect the experience of joy to come
immediately or easily. Just know it’s coming. Persevere in faith in your heavenly Father who is
GOOD, and begin to ponder what gifts he might be trying to give to you through this difficulty
that you previously wouldn’t have thought to ask for or didn’t even know you needed. The
passage tell us that the trial will lead us to be “lacking in nothing,” so let us ask God today what
it is we individually and as a culture need, and begin to surrender to him all the worldly
attachments and illusory needs we have come to depend on in our lives instead of him.
As we journey on this path of faith and perseverance on the way to the joy that we know God has
for us on the other side of this trial, I will leave you with a few tips and ideas:
1. Start paying attention! Avoid the temptation to distract and numb during times of stress
and difficulty. Instead turn inward in prayer and seek wisdom to know what is at the root
of the unrest, difficult emotions, and negative responses you might be experiencing.
Press into the discomfort instead of running away from it, so you can see what God is
trying to reveal to you.
2. Make time for quiet and reflection with God a priority. We are at a point in own lives
and world where we have come to the end of ourselves. We must choose to turn to God
in humility and seek wisdom. In prayer, instead of limiting yourself to memorized rote
prayers, stop and ask God questions. Sit in silence. Ponder sentences in scriptures that
stick out to you, and ask God what he is trying to reveal to you through them.
3. Name your enemy. In the midst of struggle, we need to realize who our enemy really is.
Hint: It’s not your kids or your spouse 😉 Is it fear, control, shame, anxiety, hopelessness?
Once you name your enemy, you can begin to form a battle plan with God to defeat that
enemy and overcome.
4. Spend time looking at life daily, and see where there is a need for repentance and
forgiveness. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you are holding on to bitterness
and resentment in your life, toward others and even yourself. Forgiveness is a powerful
path to deep interior freedom, and buried anger and unforgiveness are a tool the enemy
often uses to divide families and relationships.
5. Seek community and opportunities to grow during this time with friends, even from
over a distance. Stay connected and use the gift of technology that allows us to still see
and communicate with each other. Start a virtual book club or Bible Study. Have a
virtual happy hour with friends to connect and hang out. It may feel a bit awkward at
first, but as an online video therapist, I can attest that within a few minutes, the screen
sort of melts away, and you feel connected with each other.
If you are looking for some support resources to help you grow instead of numb during this time,
I encourage you to check out Dr. Scott Hahn’s Quarantined Catholic website with many free
Bible study resources! https://stpaulcenter.com/hub/ And in a few weeks I am launching a new
online course to help people intentionally grow and heal during this time. You can check out
more info about my Healing Foundations: Rewriting Your Story with God online course, as well
as info on my Heal, Equip & Release Podcast at https://linktr.ee/twoheartsforher.
Karen Cruess, MA , LPC
St. Patrick Catholic School Parent