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I never liked the "Praise God when tribulation or testings come. Until this was added to it.... 'I am still a Christian.' This changes it for me. It doesn't mean thank God for putting us through it, but thank God for bringing us through it. And as a bonus... Heaven is our final destination for all eternity. What deserves more Praise than that?
Life brings its share of trials to the righteous and unrighteous, and as an old friend of mine once said, "No one gets off easy." Some troubles we bring upon ourselves, but others just fall like rain. So how can we rejoice in suffering at those times? Having endured nearly 50 years of pain and debilitating illness, and closely observing the experiences of others, it seems maintaining our joy requires a near constant battle for the mind. 1st, we must remember the sufferings of He who called us (Heb 12: 1-3). 2nd, we must resist the anxious, fearful, and worrisome thoughts the enemy plants in our heads by praying, meditating on and confessing God's encouraging words (Lk 12:22-26; II Cor 10:5; Ps 1:1-2; Php 4:6-8). 3rd, we must actively rejoice and sing, because it makes us more healthy and happy. This has been proven by medical research and borne out by Scripture (Ps 9:2; 104:33; Pr 12:25; 15:13; 17:22). However, we must also realize there is an appropriate time for grieving and that is not the time for laughter (Ec 3:1,4). 4th, in his research on stress and the effects it has on the human body, Dr. Hans Selye learned that hardships affect our sleep patterns, mental and emotional states, depress our immune systems and deplete our adrenal glands. This makes us more susceptible to a variety of illnesses. Therefore, in order to handle stress, we must take proper care of our bodies, by getting proper diet, exercise and rest (Eph 5:29). 5th and finally, you cannot successively go it alone (Heb 10:24-25; Ro 15:5; Pr 18:1). For example, the loss of a loved one can be devastating, and ranks 99 out of 100 on the stress scale. My wife's best friend lost a daughter and son, one to a genetic heart disorder, the other to a horrible medical error. Then her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. Multiple brain surgeries, therapy and radiation were accompanied by rather gross and unpleasant personality changes typical of head trauma, but she continued loving and caring for her husband as much as she could. Her faith seemed unshakable. She continued to attend church, and at times would lead worship or prayer groups. At this point, the church, together with her parents, stepped in and helped to juggle the doctor appointments and the care of her 2 girls. Eventually her husband recovered and was proclaimed cancer free, resulting in much celebration, but after 10 years, the tumor returned with a vengeance. She was suddenly reliving the trial over again. Then her mother and father suddenly passed away, followed shortly after by her husband. Mentally and emotionally exhausted, 20 years of trials and tragedy sent her into a severe depression, where she could not take care of her girls or even feed, bathe and dress herself. In today's world, she would have been put into a mental care facility, and her children into foster care, but this was the church's finest hour. It's members came to her house each day, washing and dressing her, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the girls. After many months, she came out of the depression and found immediate purpose again, in caring for her children. Today she openly worships and once again proclaims the name of Jesus, but getting there was a process. I relate this story, because too often we place the emphasis for endurance and recovery of joy on the individual, and forget how much God's Word says we need one another.
To find joy in the midst of the trials of a sinful world, is at best the complete understanding of not just the trials but the lessons that most often accompany them and the recognition of each. When confronted with a trial in our worldly existing form, we tend to make those choices without the counsel of Christ, a kind of knee jerk reaction to the circumstances. I know that I am not using many Bible references I am trying to look at it from both sides, as a Christian and as a person who has not excepted the Lord as their personal savior. As Christians we know that we live and exist in an imperfect world full of sin, temptations, and hardships. As a person who does not believe in God or has not been saved life can take a myriad of potential reasons for going badly, luck, karma, or just plain misinterpreted and unbelievable coincidence. As a Christian we know that hardships throughout life are most likely going to be a guaranteed problem that we must face, but we also know that we do not have to face it alone. Our King or Creator and our Savior is always with us even if we feel He is tending to other business or if our problems are so bad we just throw up our hands and say, " I am done asking and praying I just don't want help anymore", this doesn't matter. Even if, as Christians, we do this God is still with us He is always with us during the best of times and the worst He is there and He loves us so very much. Finding joy in the midst of worldly hardships and even learning to recognize the blessings that come with them is a hard thing to do and even harder to understand. I believe that God has a plan for each and every soul and by free will we sometimes make decisions without consulting God first and these decisions put on to a track not in line with God. From the time we decide to make our own decisions without God we must understand that whatever comes God remains at our side until we have learned what it is that we to learn to find our way back to Gods plan not our own. Many great testimonials have been formed in this way and do not misunderstand God will let you dig yourself as deep a hole as you want. But at that moment when you have finally realized where and why you grow and its a wonderful feeling to know that throughout all the strife and hardship there were still times of joy. I don't use my own experiences very often but I feel in this instance it is warranted. I did the very thing I have just spoken about I made a rash decision without first praying to God and asking for His wisdom and guidance in a certain situation and it led me to the first time in my life where I knew that I had made a grave mistake and the price would be even greater still when it was all said and done. But after a while I realized that I could use this time to reevaluate my situation, grow, and gain strength and joy from it by allowing God to take complete control not just partial control but complete. I must admit the road back has been difficult to say the least, and I am not all the way back yet. But I know God will guide me and never leave me I don't have to look back to see if He is there and no matter how bad I may feel, no matter how much it hurts and to give up would be easy I will never leave Him nor stop believing. In this I gain joy and comfort from strife seeking out the Kingdom of the all mighty God and bringing my life to the foot of His throne knowing and be living that I do not have to live my life as a part of this world because there is something much greater to come and I have no doubt that it will.
'Joy' in the midst of trials and unhappiness can be a challenging and elusive search for many Jesus Followers. Based on my 72 years of experience, I suggest experiencing R-E-A-L joy, if not happiness, is: "Jesus' radical comfort and peace in the midst of trial." Jesus mentions His guaranteed provision of this dimension of 'joy' plus who is its Provider in John 14:26-28. And my acronym R-E-A-L means "Relational - Engaging - Authentic - Life-giving"! The Biblical positions suggested in other answers here on the trying issues involved in our quest for R-E-A-L joy are all helpful. But, the stoicism seemingly inherent in the kind of counsel offered here didn't work well for me, much of the time, as I laid on my back totally disabled, and unable to work at age 53, as a home-based business entrepreneur. In the midst of that trial, my wife, Karen, was diagnosed with severe colon cancer. What did work for me was learning a glorious promise of Holy Spirit's for the midst of trials that few of we Jesus Followers find in the New Covenant. It lays almost hidden, contrary to God's intention I believe, because of the way it is translated in most Bible versions. The Greek word translated in 1 Corinthians 10:13 by most other versions as only 'temptation' is accurately translated in "The Message" Bible version, not just paraphrased, as both 'trial' and 'temptation'. So in context, this verse R-E-A-Lly reads as promising us: "No temptation or other trial can affect a Jesus Follower except what is common to wo(man). And I, your loving heavenly Father, am faithful to you. I'll never let you be tempted or tried beyond the level you can handle. And when I do allow your diabolical enemy to try or tempt you, I Jesus, will provide a way through it for you so you can stand up under it and not be overwhelmed! Signed sealed and delivered: Holy Spirit" (Patton Paraphrase) Yes, the context of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about sexual sin. However, let me ask you a question? When have you ever found that your stressful trials did not also tempt you to sin? The Greek word translated in Corinthians only as 'temptation' is the same one which is translated only 'trial', not temptation, in verse 2 of James 1:2-4. This is the section of God's Word others have quoted in their answers which commands our being joyful while suffering trials. Immediately following is James 1:5-8 containing a very key section for managing our trials. There Holy Spirit tells we must take the crucial step of A-S-King (Ask-Seek-Knock) for His guaranteed wisdom to find His pre-prepared way through, not out of, our trial the "availability of which" is promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13! Once Holy Spirit led me to find the above equally valid translation of the subject noun of the Corinthians passage in The Message, I discovered Jesus' promised joy and peace easier in the midst of my regular discouragement and depression because of my dis-ability. That truth has continued to build me up, cheer me up, and lift me up in my recurring trials throughout the last 20 years as well. By doing so, Holy Spirit has taught me that Jesus means what He says in John 16:33. As Jesus continues to draw me closer to Himself in my trials, joy also has taken on a new greater meaning. I have learned what Romans 8:28-39 R-E-A-Lly means. You might find as intriguing, as did I, that Holy spirit led me to discover my joyous new freedom in The Message. It was a Bible version that I seldom looked at when it was published, and really didn't like. I didn't like The Message because I looked down on it in my evangelical snobbery as "only a paraphrase". We have an interesting, interesting God, eh? I have noticed, often, that Holy Spirit pulls me out of my super-spirituality when I need it? Do you also? BTW, after a few more years of joyous angst, The Father miraculously healed Karen's cancer, as well as my dis-ease, by using a simple lifestyle change. You can read about how at http://is.gd/l0mZPv. Blessings all!
How can I find joy in the midst of trials? In Christ, the Christian "rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet 1:8), in spite of his momentary trials (1 Pet 1:6). Christian joy is no mere gaiety that knows no sadness, but is the result of the triumph of faith over adverse and trying circumstances, which, instead of hindering, actually help it (Acts 5:41; Rom 5:3 f; Jas 1:2,12; 5:11; 1 Pet 4:13; compare Mt 5:11,12). Even our Lord Himself "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame" (Heb 12:2, what Michael calls “the best illustration of all, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).”). According to NAVE (i.e. Nave’s Topical Bible), one instance of joy is of early Christians, when they believed in Jesus, 1 Pet. 1:8, 9. --"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Do Not Be Surprised Do not be surprised at the suffering you bear; It’s not something strange, so you must not despair. Rejoice that you share with Christ and His sufferings know; When He comes in glory, your joy will o’erflow.
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