Consider it Pure Joy When You Face Trials?

Consider it Pure Joy

…continued from yesterday.

The words stared up at me from the Bible app on my phone. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Pure joy? Seriously? That’s what the NIV version said. I changed to the Message version and read the same text from James 1:2-3. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”

Joy? A gift?

I certainly felt like I had trails of all kinds, not to mention challenges and tests flooding my days and nights. I had suffered through two weeks of intense pain—accompanied by sheer frustration with the medical community. Pedro spent long hours at work preparing for the upcoming school board meeting, and he felt beset by challenges and trials as well. Our daughter seemed the shell of her former self and, based on her text messages and behavior I suspected that she had begun to use drugs or alcohol to numb her pain and anger.

Frankly, I didn’t want the joy or gift of trails, thank you very much. I wanted my chest pain to go away, my daughter to come home, and Pedro’s board-meeting stress to subside. I forced myself to keep reading the chapter.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I wanted to run screaming from my problems and give up in helpless anger. But right there in James I found a promise that I could hold on to. I lacked wisdom. God would give it to me generously. I would need it more than ever over the next weeks and months.

In fact, I needed God’s wisdom within minutes of reading the verse and begging God for wisdom. Sarah had suddenly entered a new phase of public displays of rejection.

The first hint that something had gone terribly wrong with Sarah and her friend occurred on Facebook. Her friend sent me a long message asking me if I could talk to Sarah because he was very worried about her and he thought that perhaps I, as her parent, would have some influence over her horrible behavior.

I quickly logged onto Facebook to see what in the world he meant. What I saw shocked me (and just about everyone who knew Sarah who saw it). She had posted a vitriolic video in which she employed her best sailor language (language no one had ever heard her use before). Her anger spewed from every pore in her body and reverberated across the ocean to punch me in the gut. I could only imagine how her friend felt.

I vaguely remember writing a note of apology to her friend, asking him to lift her up in prayer and to not let her uncharacteristic behavior hurt his feelings. I explained that she didn’t seem like herself and that we had been trying to get help for her for quite some time, but nothing seemed to work.

The next step involved convincing Sarah to take the video down. I prayed for wisdom, took a deep breath and tried to stay with a neutral question. “I’m wondering if you’d like to talk about what’s going on with your friend?”

She immediately texted back and let me know in no uncertain terms that he had insulted her, told her his friends all hated her, and that there was absolutely no hope of ever salvaging their friendship. She has posted the video and tagged him because he had blocked her from messaging him in private.

“You sound pretty hurt,” I said. Once again trying to remain neutral and dance around the issue of the hateful video she had posted.

She admitted that she had been terribly hurt and very angry, and didn’t care who saw the video because it told showed her former friend’s true colors. She salted her texts with more sailor language.

I texted back, “I understand that you’re angry. And sad. I just feel like a horrible parent because I obviously didn’t teach you two things 1) how to deal with angry feelings (of course, it’s only recently that you’ve admitted that you get angry), 2) how to use social media responsibly. But, you’re an almost 21 now, so I guess I’ll just have to mark those down as epic parenting fails.”

Sarah responded with more “I don’t care” bravado and signed off.

A few days later she happily texted me to tell me that she had purchased a one-way ticket to London from New York City, where she and her grandparents had a layover on their way home.

“Consider it pure joy,” rang over and over in my head and fought with my sheer panic. She had no debit card, no credit card and only $200 dollars in the bank.

'Consider it pure joy,' rang over and over in my head and fought with my sheer panic. Click To Tweet

(Note to readers: This series is co-written by myself and Sarah. She sees each post before it goes live and approves of the content).

…to be continued.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • It’s in those difficult times that our faith is indeed being tested. And sometimes, it’s hard to see clearly or even understand. But from my experience, I never felt more close to God than during those moments when I am down on my knees and just crying out because there’s nothing I can do in the situation. Strangely, after the initial blow, and after spending time with God in prayer, I feel a sense of peace, knowing He’s got things under His capable hands. And that realization gives me an unexplained joy…not the giddy kind of thing but something deeper than that.

    I’d like to know the rest of your story… I feel there’s a joyful ending to this. 🙂
    Aileen recently posted…{Day 23} Five Minute Friday: JoyMy Profile

  • So will y’all’s story end with 31 days? I love this: “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” I love the gentle way you communicated with your daughter.
    Dianne Thornton recently posted…WITH Great Joy, WITHOUT a Single Fault!My Profile

  • Tara

    Those words from James are especially hard to believe when you are in the midst of the trial. I like to put them next to my fave verse Psalm 30:5

    • I was going to check my Bible for Psalm 30:5, but I eneded up stopping to read your post first–and that explained it all :). They compliment each other perectly :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Caregiving Sorrow Turned Into JoyMy Profile

  • God seems to mock us through His words at times and I imagine that’s what it felt like when reading the words from the book of James. Your life has been assaulted over and over again by so many challenges and all I can say is that you have been an amazing mom even though you question that for yourself. Hugs as we move into the final stretch for the 31 day challenge.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Brave Faith ~ Day 23My Profile

  • But, joy comes in the morning…xo
    Susan Shipe recently posted…day 23: gluttonyMy Profile

  • Wow, Anita!

    It sounds like you have been dealing with much!

    I am going to pray for you today – every single time God brings you and your family to mind. Asking Him to give you grace and incredible wisdom!

    I came over on Dance with Jesus~
    Blessings,
    Melanie
    Melanie Redd recently posted…The Most Essential Parenting Advice Of AllMy Profile

  • It’s so hard to EVER consider something painful happening with your children to be pure joy, isn’t it?! But God’s got us, EVERY moment, and that is joy.
    Carol Bovee recently posted…Caregiving Sorrow Turned Into JoyMy Profile

  • So sorry to hear of your troubles, but God will move in the midst of them as only He can. Stay faithful and keep praying. :
    Susan Langer recently posted…Five Minute Free Writes 10/22/15-Value of ContentmentMy Profile

  • That’s the hardest thing – I just wrote in today’s post that when I pray over a trial, it’s usually for the quickest way out rather than to rejoice in seeing how God will work.

    I just can’t imagine going through all this with a child so far away and acting so cryptically. I’m eager to see how God works this all out!
    Barbara H. recently posted…31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: The World Must Be ShownMy Profile

  • Anita,
    I’ve been following this story and learning lots from your honesty and openness about this journey. At the same time a tiny part of me has felt voyeuristic somehow. I’m sure you have Sarah’s consent and support in posting this journey, but I wonder if you could express that somewhere (perhaps on the 31 Glimpses into the Unquiet Mind page, or whatever makes sense to you). Perhaps you already have done that somewhere and I’ve missed it, but even a link to that explanation/assurance at the bottom of each segment might be helpful. For me as a reader, it’s important to know for sure as I hear all these sacred stories about her ups and downs. And it seems to me important to model to other bloggers etc that ethic of consent when sharing others’ stories.
    Thanks again for your lovely and honest writing.
    Katie Ross recently posted…Kiddos, aching souls, and the school-to-prison pipelineMy Profile

    • Thank you for the reminder to remind people, Katie! We (Sarah and I) forget sometimes that people may not have read the first post–so I went back and made our co-authorship statement bold and easy to see. I’ll also start adding a statement at the end of each post letting everyone know that she has full editorial control. As I have time, I’ll add it to the bottom of the other posts as well :). I am awed each day by her willingness to share such a personal story with the world–but we share it with a purpose and a hope that others can be spared the pain we experienced.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…How to Act When Your Adolescent Acts UnreasonableMy Profile

      • Thanks so much! I knew that must be the case, but somehow I had missed the initial note even though I thought I read from the beginning. It’s nice to know that not only has Sarah allowed this story to be shared but that she is actively involved in the process! Thanks to both of you for your bravery.
        Katie Ross recently posted…Kiddos, aching souls, and the school-to-prison pipelineMy Profile

  • I can’t imagine how rough this must have been on you and your daughter. So glad you had the Lord.
    Robyn recently posted…An Email ConfirmationMy Profile

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