Since we've been home from California, DearHubby's company has been working him hard and with long hours, but the worse is over! DearHubby had been leaving for work by 4:30am and coming home at 7pm. Then, this Monday and Tuesday, he went in at 4am and didn't come home until 10:30pm on Monday and 9pm on Tuesday. Through all this, DearHubby was such a light and example of what persevering under stress looked like. He did not once get frustrated about the situation nor did he complain. It was quite an amazing example of depending on God's provided strength and I thank DearHubby for exemplifying such faith and self-control! Well, last night, DearHubby came home at his normal time and the girls were so glad to see Daddy as they hadn't seen him for 2 days.
As for me, my whole response to those long days without Daddy was not very good. I was just such a big grouch, again, not depending on the Lord.
As I witnessed DearHubby going through this stressful time, I was convicted of my own response to his long working hours and the one passage I've meditated on is James 1:2-6:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt...
And the question I've been asking myself is, "How do you keep joy under a trial?"
As I've meditated on this question, the one command that kept coming back to mind is to "Be holy because I am holy."
God IS a holy God and hates sin. He desires that all His children be holy and as James explains, these trials that God have set before us works to make us complete. Therefore, these trials, though hard, are working for our good to make us holy because He loves us!
God, then, also being a gracious God, has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to always respond in righteousness. During those hard and struggling trials, there is a temptation to sin by responding in the flesh, getting impatient, angry, frustrated, and even sometimes doubting. So, it is comforting to know that "no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) When under a trial and tempted to respond in the flesh, God will always provide an "option" to do what is right in His eyes and we should never think that our only choice is to sin.
So how does this all relate to keeping joy under a trial? Joy is not necessarily just a feeling but it is something deeper. It is remembering that we are all sinful people and yet God made the ultimate sacrifice to wash away our sins. It is remembering that we don't deserve God's love and yet through Christ He loves us so much that He would continue His sanctifying work in us to make us more holy. It is thinking on all those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy that is pleasing in God's sight. It is being thankful for all that God did and does for us and how His mercies are new every morning. And this is how joy is made real in our hearts, knowing that God is holy and wants us to be holy too, and as we think on that, our trials are made less burdensome because we desire to persevere in righteousness out of our love for God!