My grandson’s reaction left me stunned.
He was barely able to sit on his own without wobbling when a shiny, green ball caught his attention. With pillows arranged to protect him, he made his move. As he reached forward, I sat still. When his chubby digits gripped the ball, I waited and watched. At that point, he was halfway through his challenge.
He whimpered in his struggle; I held my breath. When he returned to an upright posture, I clapped softly and smiled, “Yay! You did it!” He lowered the ball from his drooling mouth, turned his attention to me, and grinned so big his eyes squeezed shut.
In that moment I comprehended the meaning of pure joy.
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4 NIV
This shared experience with my grandbaby reinforced my recent study of the Book of James. Pure joy amid trials. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
My little guy was happy to have the ball. I was happy for him. But when joy filled his being, the ball no longer held his attention. No other action or emotion mixed with—or hindered—his joy. And you know something else? It was contagious; his reaction helped me experience pure, unadulterated joy in the wake of his trial.
God makes it clear that we are not excused from trials of life, and He tells us why He allows them in the next verse.
Pure joy after trials.
[B]ecause you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:3-4
My will was challenged as I watched my grandson struggle against toppling over. But I knew from experience it was best.
And even though he lost sight of me, I never lost sight of him. What a sweet reminder of my Father’s presence even when storms of life distract my focus.
From God’s perspective, He is present and aware of our struggles. But He allows tests for the benefit of growing us stronger—helping us persevere. Going through life’s tests knowing God is with us equips us to choose well—to choose faith and trust in Him. I am certain this was a test for me, one that will benefit my little guy in years to come.
God also helped me see more clearly that even the youngest of our loved ones are not exempt from trials, and they benefit greatly from our encouragement.
Here’s a few suggestions for encouraging your little ones when they do hard things:
Frame it: Even when it’s just first-try scribbles, put that art in a frame and display it for all to ooo and ahh over. It takes a lot to wrangle a crayon in those little hands.
Tell it: Share your kid’s joy stories with others. Reinforce the truth of struggles along with the fact that they are not alone.
Recall it: When your littles grow bigger, so will their trials. Remind them of when they faced hard times before, and how those hard times are now a part of their past.
Live it: Choose to be the example they can count on. And when they ask how you can be so joyful when life is so hard, share your joy story because of Christ.
Simplify it: Simply face them, clap your hands, and say, “Yay! You did it!”
As my little guy grows older, he won’t think about how hard it was to sit, talk, and stand for the first time. He won’t recall me being there as he struggled. But when other trials befall him, I pray the privilege of our shared experience will help me lead him well while staying out of God’s way.
As followers of Christ, may we commit to doing life—trials and all—with our loved ones of every age. May pure joy be our reaction because we know what God is doing.
I’d love to know your pure joy story. How has God used your trials to grow your perseverance of faith?
Choose to be the example they can count on. When Trials Darken, Let Joy Lead by Charla Matthews @inthequiver #ConsiderItJoy #FamilyTweet