“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
I have always struggled with these verses. How can I have joy during trials? I don’t want to be happy when I’m depressed, down, and struggling to hang on. Who does?
However, James isn’t talking about putting on a happy face in these verses. He is talking about the fact we will all face trials. Some of them harder than others, but we will all face them. He said “whenever”, not “if” you face trials.
His encouragement to us is to try to look at the positive side, to be thankful for what we do have, to look for the good. Such as the fact it is developing more character in us. It is producing perseverance in us.
Recently, when I was extremely down and not caring about anything at one of my therapy sessions, my therapist challenged me to do something. He said, “I want you, whenever you start to get negative about something, or down, to find something you are thankful about. Anything, just one little thing even.”
I gave him a look as if “Really? Seriously? You want me to find good in being sexually abused and assaulted?”
As if reading my mind, he said, “I know what happened to you was terrible, but today, right now, what can you be thankful for at this moment?”
It got me to thinking…..
So now when I journal…..when I find myself journaling negatively….if I catch myself I will try to find something to be thankful for and it does seem as if a little cloud lifts.
Journaling, getting everything onto paper and out of my head so I don’t ruminate on it and get angrier or worry more, helps. Whether I am writing to God, myself, or my therapist, it is helpful. As is being thankful.
Today, I find myself thankful on many levels. My power went out at 5:15 am during a very windy thunderstorm. It was out until 12:30 pm and it is a Saturday. I did not realize how much I depend on light, fans, air conditioning, hair dryers, computers, internet, treadmill, even my vacuum. The luxuries of life.
This morning I had my time with God by candlelight and I had plenty of time for it. I went for a walk outside and enjoyed the breeze after the rain, and the beauty of God’s creation. I am thankful for the luxuries and for living in a time when we have indoor plumbing and lights, and carpets instead of dirt floors.
Today, I am also reminded I am thankful for my life. As messed up as it seems many days, and as hard of a life as it has been, it could be worse. A friend from my old church moved to California a few years back with her son and husband.
Her son is paralyzed, and cannot speak, feed himself, or function. His eyes roam around, but even now ten years after his accident his eyelids are atrophying and they have to tape them shut for him to sleep. He is aware, to what extent we don’t know, of what is going on in his world, and he feels pain, hunger and emotions, but he cannot express them.
Five years ago I tried three times to end my life. They were serious attempts and I was very blessed I did not end up paralyzed, needing a transplant, or dead. God saved me. I am thankful I am not in a state such as my friend’s son.
So, even in our trials, we can find blessings. It can be very hard on some days, but they are there.
When I am in doubt I ask God for help.
He’s always waiting to share the blessings in my life and I know He is in yours too.
Having experienced probably one of the more difficult trials one could face in life in being sexually assaulted, my innocence was stripped away and my emotions taken with it. Please remind me of the many things I can be thankful for in my life as I journey through recovery.
Tip: You can journal in my new book: Restoring the Soul Journal: For Encouragement and Hope now available on Amazon.
© 2018 Susan M. Clabaugh All Rights Reserved.