I was in a cabin with a group of other junior high and high schoolers with our camp counselors. It was summer youth camp and we were all sitting in the big common room between the girl’s wing and the boys wing.

In the middle of a week of sports contests, craft projects and worship services, we were in for a change as our lead pastor spoke that night. Secretly I wondered what our church pastor, who spoke to adults most of the time, could possibly have to say that would be relevant to a group of young people.

He had us turn in our Bibles to James 1:2. The passage said we should be happy when bad things happen to us. Though I had not experienced a lot of bad things in my life up to that point, it was an idea that hit me hard. “Why would God ask us to be happy when we go through tough times?”, I thought. It was a difficult concept for my teen-age brain to understand.

Through the years I’ve come to know that many children and adults struggle with this concept. Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen? Why do those who love Him still go through hunger, disease, poverty, abandonment or abuse?

We can’t always know the mind of God, but the passage in James gives us insight.

As my pastor went on, he explained that the answer is in the next verse: James 1:3 “...because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Our natural human reaction to pain is to avoid it and to question God’s motives for allowing it. Yet, God never promises us a life without it. Yet when we walk through the pain, we know God is with us and it will produce in us the character He desires us to have. Knowing this, we can have joy.

Prayer: Father, help me walk through difficult times knowing you are with me and the hardships are making me stronger and more like Jesus.

For Today: Reflect on hard things you’ve experienced and thank God for bringing them your way. Thank God for being with you and helping you grow.

Tags: Godly Influences Joy trials James 1