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April 8 – Joy in tribulation

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.James 1:2

Scripture reading: James 1:1-8

Hardship in life is never fun, but we all have these “trials of various kinds.” Five and a half years ago, when my doctor informed me that I had cancer, my whole existence was jolted. After getting over the shock, I started thinking “I want to be at my children’s weddings” and “I want to hold my grandchildren.” I shed tears and wondered about my uncertain future. Five months later I underwent major surgery that removed the cancer. Thankfully, I have been “clean” ever since.

But how can you “count it all joy” when you hear such news? Or when your child dies? Or when you lose your job? The unbeliever finds this incredible. Instead of joy, he will get angry at life. Or she will drown her pain in drugs or alcohol.

But the child of God knows that nothing happens by chance, but everything comes from God’s fatherly hand. God’s purposes are always for our good (Romans 8:28). They are productive, not destructive, moulding us into the image of Christ. When you experience trials, it isn’t bad luck. Rather, God is working to make you beautiful – your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

During those five months of uncertainty about my health, God strengthened my heart. Far from shaking my fist at God, by His grace, I rested in His goodness and faithfulness. The faith that I had always professed was confirmed and that has brought me unspeakable joy. Why? Because “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that when the Lord sends trials in your life, He will confirm your faith and that your joyful response to hardships will be an encouragement to others.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen is the minister of Coram Deo Reformation Church(URC) in Littleton, Colorado.

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