rebelling against low expectations

Finding Joy in the Hard Times


Joy in the midst of trials. Is it really possible?

I sit beside my classmates, waiting for this guy to do our chapel service. I gaze out the window, and see only a glimpse of light trying to break through the morning darkness. I just want this over with. So we can go back to class, and I can finish that essay I turned in late and ask someone for help on that one Latin sentence that I just can’t figure out.

It was just a normal day. Until… it wasn’t.

He walks to the front of the classroom with a hint of a smile and a cheerful good morning. My mind begins to wander until he asked a question I wasn’t really expecting: Is there such thing as joy in the midst of trials?

My day-dreaming train of thought comes to a halt as I ponder this inwardly.

“Will you turn to James with me, as we consider this question?” he said to us all.

I flip through pages old and worn with time, not knowing what would stare back at me from them. Will it hurt?, I pray. Is this going to be another one of those times that the Word of God cuts into my soul, and I bleed pain and repentance and that need for unfailing grace?

Then he reads, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience…” (James 1:2-3)

And then he raises another question, “So, when you guys fall into trials, and difficult times, do you truly consider all of it joy, as you are being tested for your faith?”


Knowing my answer, I wilt a little inside, but trying not to show it so nobody can see the deep lines of pain and confusion written on my forehead.

And I bleed. I bleed from the wound of the Holy Spirit, who engraved this question deep into my innermost being in order to awaken my sleeping heart-fire for God.

And then our eyes meet. His blue eyes burn into my psyche, and that question just won’t go away, and, oh, God, I really can’t take this anymore. I want to have joy no matter what happens but I just can’t do it… on my own.

But neither could Job. Or Esther. Or Ruth. Or David. Or Mary.

And I just want to fall at Christ’s feet and wash them with my tears and wipe them with my hair and anoint them in fragrant oil.


I’m not writing this post to complain about my troubles, my trials, or my problems.


I’m writing you this post to say to you, that, yes, joy IS possible. But not on your own.

There is only One who can give us lasting, satisfying, unwavering joy, even in the testing of our faith.

And that’s Jesus Christ. In Him is the fullness of joy.

I think sometimes we think that happiness is the most important thing in life. But it’s not. You see, happiness… is just an emotion.

Joy is a state of being. Even in hard times.


Photos courtesy of Daveybot and Knowsphotos on Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Rachel Hatcher

is an ordinary 16-year-old with an extraordinary God, who aspires each day to pursue God and to glorify Him. She enjoys reading, hiking, and drinking coffee on rainy days. She strives to be an inspiration to those around her by sharing her love for Jesus and being an encouragement in times of need.


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  • Wow! What a powerful message. It’s so hard to “count it all joy.” I think we all have an innate desire to do things on our own, without God’s help. But time an again we are reminded that without God nothing is possible. Your story truly touched me. Thank you for reminding me of what really matters.


    James W.

    • Praise God! For me, it has always been easy to mix up constantly being in a “happy mood”, and being in a state of joy during trials. That chapel lesson really touched me, and God has been helping me to understand & to receive this kind of joy that can only come from Him!

    • It’s something God has been working on in my life. He pressed it on my heart to share it with others 🙂

  • “Give thanks in all things, for that is Gods will concerning you.” I have to remind myself to trust. “All things work out for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” thats from Romans. Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ.

    Thank you so much for this reminder and this beautifully written message. Let’s be thankful always and find joy in the LORD.

  • What an inspiring message!!! I love what you wrote at the end about happiness being simply an emotion whereas joy is a state of being. That’s an awesome perspective of this whole ‘trials’ thing.
    John Marsden wrote this in the epilogue of one of his books: “Life’s about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It’s about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, love, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off. I don’t want to be happy. I know I won’t live happily ever after. I want more than that, some­thing richer. I want to go right up close to the beauty and the ugliness. I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all. The richness and the poverty, the joy and the cruelty, the sweetness and the sadness.”
    I don’t think he was writing from a Christian perspective but this paragraph sums up for me how we need to live our lives – not expecting happiness (which after all, is just an emotion) forever and ever but experiencing life in its nitty-gritty honesty and thus experiencing true joy.
    Thank you so much for your post. God bless. 🙂

    • “…not expecting happiness (which after all, is just an emotion) forever
      and ever but experiencing life in its nitty-gritty honesty and thus
      experiencing true joy.” <– Very true!

  • I’ve been reminded often to choose joy on bad days – but I haven’t been reminded as often to rely on God for the strength to find that joy. And that’s just as vital. Thanks for the reminder.

  • “I think sometimes we think that happiness is the most important thing in life. But it’s not. ” You nailed it!

By Rachel Hatcher
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →