The Joyful Journey Through Trials: Following the Example of Saints

There’s so much to learn from older saints who have faced unthinkable trials, traveling a joyful journey with unshakeable faith.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

James 1:2,3 ESV

If you want to increase your faith, sit with old folks who have suffered. There’s so much to learn from older saints who have faced unthinkable trials, but have come through with unshakeable faith. 

I’ve personally sat and listened to older saints who have recalled stories of great loss: being abandoned as children, losing spouses (to death or infidelity), wrestling in prayer for rebellious children, losing life-long ministries, broken friendships, failing health, and dwindling finances. Yet, these experienced saints are able to hold both sorrows for the broken parts of life in one hand, and the truth of God’s goodness in the other, and still rejoice for God’s grace in their lives.


How did they get to this place where they can praise God for things that make us weep and we would count as colossal life failures?

More importantly, how can we follow their example and set it for our children and grandchildren?

James 1 tells us how. 

In the face of trials, we should evaluate the trial, look it square in the face, and count it all joy… knowing the trial will bear spiritual fruit which leads to maturity if we endure it righteously.

When we are joyful in trials (James 1;1) and “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:1”)  we live as one who is yielded and walking in obedience to God.

Matthew Henry reminds us that trials are always for the purpose of sanctification and purity:

“The devil endeavors [in trials] to draw men to sin and to deter them from duty, or unfit them for it; but, as our afflictions are in God’s hand, they are intended…for the improvement of our graces. 

The gold is put into the furnace, so that it may be purified. 

By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last.” (MH Commentary, James 1.)

We can take joy even in heartbreak because we are held and kept by a good and loving God who is working all of it out for our good and giving us the opportunity to do good for God’s kingdom as we live in obedience even in the midst of brokenness and tears.  

If you are like me, when I face trials, my first response is rarely “Oh joy!” 

It’s usually, “Oh no!” or “How could they do this?” 

Knee-jerk reactions like mine are natural and short-sighted. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance God’s Word and our Savior Jesus, our dearest friend who is not just our Savior in the past, but who is interceding for us before the Father right this very minute. He is actively engaged in good on our behalf. 

In His Word

“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I love the inclusivity of ALL THINGS in that verse, don’t you?

Trials cannot separate you from the love of God. They don’t mean that God is angry with you. God loves you and when He looks at you He sees His perfect Son who bore all the wrath on the cross, so there’s no more left for us. He looks at you as though you’d always obeyed every command like Jesus did. Amazing Grace!

On this side of heaven, we may never know WHY troubles and afflictions come. But we do know that God is for us, He loves us, He’s with us, and He is still in control. 

In Your Life

Are you in a trial right now? What will it take for you to consider this trial a joy? Praise God that even this unwanted trial is under His sovereignty, and is part of ALL THINGS He is working together for your good today.

We Recommend

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

Not By Chance: Learning to Trust A Sovereign God by Layton Talbert

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Sarah Beals is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of 5. She lives in beautiful New England and writes about Christian living, home education, hospitality, and living a creative life at and on Instagram.