“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
This is stupid, but I used to want bad things to happen to me. I thought my faith wasn’t strong because I hadn’t gone through a tough time. I had no intense life story to share, and doubted whether I was really a Christian. I wanted God to “test me and try me.” (Psalm 26:2)
Like I said, stupid.
And God thought so too. He “cleared his throat” and pointed out that I’m in the middle of a really long trial. One that lasts for six years in Australia–high-school.
Think about it. James says trials of many kinds. If going to class five days a week, handing in assignments, following all the rules, or maintaining friendships, don’t provide trials of many kinds, then I don’t know what does!
Joyful in All Trials
Though these trials are smaller than those of James’ audience, I doubt many students are joyful during them…
“I’m going to fail this test.”
“I’m never going to fit in.”
“I have so much work to do.”
Complaining about school is harmful. Whether you believe school is really that terrible, or are just parroting your friends, it leaves no room for how God wants us to respond. As Christians, school can be our training ground. It prepares us for God’s work, as well as a career.
This is where joy comes in. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, and can manifest as we mature spiritually. Being confident in God’s promises, and following Jesus’ example, gives school a purpose higher than education, allowing us to rise above the negativity that is placed on the challenges school provides.Being confident in God’s promises, and following Jesus’ example, gives school a purpose higher than education, allowing us to rise above the negativity that is placed on the challenges school provides. Click To Tweet
Joy Starts With Prayer
After God finished shaking his head at my desire to experience bad things, he reminded me that adopting a joyful attitude starts with prayer. The more you thank God for the education you have, the more you’ll see how all you encounter during school can strengthen your faith, pointing back to the One who provided it.
God is sovereign over every difficult conversation you have, and each stressful task you complete. You can lift up trials you encounter at school in prayer, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Seeing answered prayer in challenges gives you more reason to rejoice and changes the attitude you have towards difficult situations.
Joy is Our Witness
Others need to see this attitude of joy we’ve adopted. While your friends are complaining about their trials, you can joyfully embrace them. This could intrigue them, giving you a chance to share your faith.
In contrast, others might mock your joyful attitude. Jesus tells us this is all the more reason to have joy in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”
Remember, most of us are pretty well off. Persecution was guaranteed for the early Christians and some still face it today. Not to undermine your trials at school, but if those facing persecution could find joy, I’m certain you can too!
Having a joyful attitude reveals that God will use school to make us mature and complete for his glory. So instead of waiting for bigger trials to come along, joyfully take on the ones that are right in front of you; on your desk, in your classroom, on your schedule; in your friendship group, wherever they may be!