Not once in my life have I ever felt happy about suffering. I’ve never walked through a trial, a moment of temptation, or a season of testing with a big smile on my face yelling, “This is awesome!!”
But when I am thinking biblically about my life, I can count hard times as joy in the ledger book of my life.
James gave us this crazy instruction:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
~ James 1:2 NIV
James wrote this verse as part of a letter to be sent to Christians living in his day who had been scattered under persecution (see Acts 8 for some history). Every day was hard for them. And James challenges them to do the impossible – to count their hard season as a positive.
James was using a financial term to say, Instead of counting this time as a negative experience that takes something away from your life, put it in the column of positive experiences that ultimately add something good to your life.
It’s not about enjoying the negative experience itself, it’s about seeing through the hard moment to what will be added to your life and your character once you’ve endured it.
Whatever you’re going through, you will get through it, and if you embrace the process, you’ll be stronger on the other side of it. Count that as joy!