How Can We “Count It All Joy” During Life’s Toughest Trials?

If you’re going through a trial, someone has probably shared the count it all joy scripture with you.

You know the one, right? From James 1:2-4?

Let’s face it–this “count it all joy” Bible verse is not the easiest scripture to read when you’re trusting God through trials.

At first glance, you may even think that this Bible verse makes it harder to keep your joy through a trial. Alright–you might even be downright annoyed when someone shares it with you!

I am definitely tempted to feel that way sometimes! Especially as my husband and I currently walk through our most difficult trial to date.

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Truthfully, our current trial has forever changed my perspective on whether or not joy is possible in a trial.

During a trial, can we really “count it all joy” like the Bible verse says?

I’m discovering the truth (and excited to share it with you here)!

Why Do We Go Through Trials and Tribulations?

Trials and tribulations seem to bring out all of our spiritual questions, don’t they?

Namely, we want to know:

  • When will this trial end?;
  • How can we count it all joy despite the pain?; and
  • Why is this trial happening?

Unfortunately, we don’t have control over when a trial ends. And I want to share with you in a minute more insight about that famous “count it all joy” scripture we talked about.

Right now let’s address the big “why” question behind during hard times (which, quite frankly, keeps many of us from trusting God through a trial).

Here’s the bad news: The Bible says we should expect trials and difficulties (1 Peter 4:12).

But the good news is that He uses these trials as the conduits for beautiful spiritual growth (namely joy). The Bible talks about that quite a bit too in Romans 5:3, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Now…The Truth About the Count it All Joy Scripture You’ve Heard

Alright. Let’s talk about that count it all joy Bible verse (James 1:2-4) we mentioned previously.

Here’s the famous count it all joy scripture in the New Living Translation:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

In the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, James 1:2 is written as “Consider it pure joy my brothers” (which to me makes this verse even more potentially challenging when you read it while going through a trial)!

And that’s just it: James 1:2:-4 is difficult to read during a trial because trials are incredibly painful. Considering a trial “pure joy” when we receive an unexpected diagnosis or must endure the painful loss of a loved one seems incredulous at best. And that makes sense.

However, the issue lies in a perspective issue not a biblical truth issue.

You see, yes, trials are an opportunity for great joy. The problem is that we may not recognize that great joy until after the trial ends.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but during the hard times, our spiritual “vision” can easily become clouded and downright murky, making it extremely hard to take the James 1:2-3 verse at face value.

In fact, joy can feel very, very far away.

But is it? Is joy really far off during life’s biggest challenges?

How Can You Count It All Joy? It Comes Down to One Question

When going through a trial, we can read all kinds of scriptures about how to count it all joy. And of course these provide incredible insight and strength.

But ultimately, it’s about what we choose to do with these Bible verses.

Trusting God through trials? It’s all about how we answer this question:

“What will you choose to savor?”

What thoughts will you choose to let dominate your mindset? Will you let fear rule, or will you unwaveringly trust in God’s promises?

What will you allow yourself to ruminate on when the test results come back positive, when you receive that rejection letter (again), or when you have absolutely no idea how things will work out?

Your quiet, secret thoughts (played day after day) will be the greatest influence on your joy during a trial.

In fact, what you choose to dwell on with either free you to experience God’s joy or it will hold you prisoner to your fears.

What you dwell on will either free you to experience God's joy and peace or it will hold you prisoner to your fears.Click To Tweet

Yes, our thoughts have that much power.

Do You Just Need Positive Thinking to Keep Your Joy Through Trials?

Discovering joy through trials is so much more than rudimentary “positive thinking.”

There’s a incredible tension between keeping our minds hopeful, actively searching for answers, and praying like mad for God to bring relief.

It’s an acknowledgment of the difficulties without allowing the “what ifs” to steal the provision of the moment.

It’s an acceptance–a childlike trust–that no, we don’t understand the reasons behind it yet but we’re still going to believe in God’s goodness.

It’s a delicate dance between actively pursuing every option and choosing to trust God that He’ll provide an absolute miracle.

Bible Verses When Going Through Trials

Want to see more Bible verses about joy in spite of a trial? I wrote these posts that talk about discovering joy during specific life seasons (such as chronic illness):

20 Encouraging Bible Verses About Joy

19 Joy Bible Verses for Chronic Illness Sufferers

How to Give Thanks During Trials

I’d also suggest you check out my easy, simple Bible study method so that you can get the most out of these verses.

Others Testimonies about Discovering Joy During Trials

4 Ways “Acceptance with Joy” Will Change Your Life Today

5 Biblical Truths on Joy That Will Change Your Life

When Chronic Illness Invades Your Marriage

When a Loved One Dies Unexpectedly

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About Alicia Michelle

As a wife and mom to four passionate kids, Alicia Michelle loves encouraging other moms with practical tips for joy-filled living in everyday life, especially in parenting, marriage, faith and health.

Alicia is the owner/editor of Your Vibrant Family; the author of Plan to Be Flexible, The Back to School Survival Manual; and the creator/producer of the “7 Days to a Less Angry Mom Online Video Course,”, Christ-Centered Christmas Resources and My Memory Box Organizing System. In addition, she is a monthly contributor for several popular family blogs, including

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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