My birthday is coming up and that is a reason to celebrate right? Not always. For most of my life my birthday was filled with heartache and trepidation. I did not look to it at all. To give you an example one birthday my brother was arrested for bank robbery, and another a relationship ended on my birthday. When I was younger people really just did not celebrate my birthday at all and I did not have friends to celebrate it at all. I had often wondered if there was any way to turn this despair around.
Then I went off to college. I had these two crazy friends. I had let it slipped that my birthday was coming up. Let me paint a picture of where I was for college, out of state, my mom was hundreds of miles away and I was alone. My two friends just rubbed their hands together said okay when I said that I did not want to celebrate my birthday in fact I had hated to celebrate my birthday. Even though secretly I wanted to celebrate my birthday, and a secret birthday prayer was that I would have special friends who would celebrate my birthday. On my birthday I got the usual random birthday calls and the gift box from my mom. No celebration. Later that night around dinner time, I get this call from one of my friend that knew it was my birthday to come down to the main hall. I go down they had decorated the hall with a strawberry theme think pink, complete with my favorite Mexican food dish, strawberry soda, and a strawberry shortcake. Ever since that time any group of my numerous friends always tries to make my birthday special even when I do not want to celebrate. Even last year when I was going through my heart break, my best guy friend got me a cake I didn’t ask for a cake but he got me one anyways.
James 1:2-3, 12 says Count it joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance; Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. I have to say whenever we are going through a hard trial, a hardship, a hurt that it does hurt. There are many times that we want to give up or stay in the place of bitterness, despair, unforgiveness, or even anger. God does not want us to do that. Instead he wants us to push ourselves forward and lean on him to endure the heart ache, the hardship, the trial. The question comes how we do that. The answer is hard yet simple, is to count it joy. What joy because there is no joy to be found right now? I found that when I find joy in God that it make the trial much easier to go through because I’m leaning into him instead of the trial. On my birthdays when I was sad, I looked to God through my aching heart. I found myself praising him and on a side note this is when I was closer to him not during my teen years. Any ways just looking to him brought some relief.
Here are a few examples of what I mean of “Counting” it joy:
- God sees my tears, he sees me (Gen 16:13)
- It is a sunny day, thank you God!
- He is my comforter, he is comforting me right now
- He is my redeemer, one day he will redeem this heart break (Ps 31:5)
- A rainbow in the sky, He keeps his promise!
- I got out of bed, I don’t know how, God is my strength
- I got an encouraging word today, God is so encouraging
- He is faithful
- He loves me, I saw a heart cloud in the sky
- Unexpected gift arrived today, God is a gift giver
- I opened my eyes today, he is my life giver
- He intervened on my behalf today, He is my intercessor
When you begin to look at God instead of your of circumstances things just seems to get slightly better. Then when you come to the end of it there is a joy a sense of relief. You can give God a sense of a high five that we made it through the trial. Like for me I actually do enjoy my birthday now even though I dread it coming, I look forward celebrating with friends. I had to go through a lot of suffering to get to a point of joy. Whatever you are in Count it All Joy in God, for end the end you will receive a blessing of life. I bet that it will make you smile and say I made it!