TRIALS ARE INEVITABLE & THE TIMING IS ALWAYS TERRIBLE
During my senior year of college at San Diego State University, I began getting headaches. It was summertime, and I was taking a 4-unit class known as the most difficult in the Psychology department—the notorious “Experimental Psychology.” The class was 4 hours a day for 6 weeks; needless to say, it wasn’t a good time for me to be in pain.
The first 3 days of class I was loaded on headache medicine, but by the fourth day I started throwing up. Soon after that, I experienced double vision and that’s when I went to see the doctor. Immediately, the doctor sent me to a neurologist who did a CAT scan, an MRI, and a spinal tap. The MRI revealed a swelling in my brain stem, but the doctor would need the spinal tap results before she could determine the cause. She mentioned it could be multiple sclerosis or encephalitis.
For the next 6 weeks I wore an eye patch to correct my double vision (one of my eyes looked permanently crossed), took the prescribed steroids to shrink the swelling in my brain, and waited for the test results. I continued attending class (w/ my one good eye!) and did my best to catch up and keep up. What if I had MS? I was a young married woman with my whole life in front of me. It was the very definition of a “trial.”
“Count it all joy,” Paul says in , “when you face trials, for the .” Does anyone else hate that verse? Seriously? Joy?! But early in this trial, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Don’t let the enemy steal your joy.” Somehow I knew this was the purpose of the trial and
I needed to pass the test—with joy.
JESUS OFFERS COMPLETE JOY
Jesus says He came to give us joy. “I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. John 17:13 The Amplified version defines complete joy as experiencing Jesus’ “delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts.’ Jesus came so that joy and delight could fill my heart? Count me in!
Anyone can have joy during a happy time, but how rare to experience joy during a life crisis. No wonder the enemy wants to steal our joy. What a testimony to the world when we are unshaken by uncertainty, pain, turmoil, and loss. We must be aware of the thief of joy. Some of us just accept the unpleasant or even horrific circumstance we’re in and resign ourselves to worry, anxiety, and depression. Stop! When you give in, you have come into agreement with the thief of joy. Instead, break any agreements you’ve made with the enemy and choose to step back into joy.
ASK FOR JOY
During my “trial”, I obviously asked the Lord to heal my brain. But I also asked for joy, and I made a conscience decision NOT to worry about the outcome of my test results. A few things helped me when I was tempted to worry. I intentionally listened to praise and worship music, surrounded myself with positive people, laughed whenever possible—especially at my new eye-patch “fashion statement”, worked hard in school, and kept my mind on the word of God.
I eventually discovered the swelling was caused by encephalitis. The doctor said I was lucky, because the type of virus I had is called “the sleeping sickness.” She said most patients go to sleep for six weeks. I would have failed my Psych class! Instead, I received an “A” in the class, regained my sight, and never lost my joy—glory to God!
Did you ever notice how this verse ends?
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24
The outcome for everything God wants to do in your life is always full, complete joy. It’s worth repeating—Jesus came to give you joy.