Have you ever been discouraged and just ready to give up? I think if we are honest we have all been in such a place. Yesterday, this was exactly where I was. I woke up discouraged, praying in tears and just crying out for the Lord‘s help. Waiting on God has got to be one of the hardest things possible. Feelings of hopelessness and purposelessness do nothing for one’s self-esteem. So I spent the morning crying out to the Lord. On Mondays’ I attend a Ladies’ Bible study. So by 10 am I had gathered myself and prepared to go though I was anything but excited. See in this Bible study we are going through Beth Moore‘s study on James and yesterday the topic of conversation was none other than, “Consider it joy my brethren when you face trials of many kinds…. (Ja. 1:1). Not exactly the encouragement I was looking for. There are some verses in the Bible that are just hard, this is one of them. I wanted to wallow in my self-pity, not consider it joy.
Yet, the Lord who is rich in mercy knew exactly what I needed to hear. As the study began and she read the verse, I resisted an eye roll and really began to listen. She spoke of how in the Scriptures suffering or anguish are often seen together. If you look at John 16;20-22 you find a perfect example. It says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come, but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore, you too have grief now, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Beth Moore went on to say that in the Scriptures you find anguish and joy coexisting as in James 1:2, you find anguish and joy trade places as in Is. 61:1-3 and then as in John 16, you find anguish turning into joy. Most often this last one is the case. As I sat there I thought of the time when we were forced out of the church we were pastoring and the pain that caused us, pain I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It was a time of great anguish, but eventually the Lord turned it into joy by sending us to Korea for two years, a time I wouldn’t trade for anything.
She went on to say and to encourage those of us who are in the midst of anguish and heartache to just hold on, not to give up, not to quit. For if we quit or give up, we will miss out on what God has. Yet, if we just hold on, keep trusting, keep believing He will turn our anguish into joy. We will look back one day upon this season and understand what God was doing. But for now, hold on. That we may not have realized it, but we are in labor now, but joy is coming.
Wow, exactly what I needed to hear. So within that time, I went from eye rolling to blinking back tears. My day didn’t exactly get any easier but I kept thinking upon what she said and prayed for the grace and strength to just hold on. And the Lord blessed my socks off by hearing and answering prayers. He took me through a difficult day and then brought me joy.
I don’t know what you are going through. What anguish you are suffering. Yet, God does know. He does see, He does care. Cry out to Him, pour out your heart before Him. And just hold on, if only by your toe nails, hold on. He can and will turn your anguish into joy.