Dwight L. Moody was familiar with hardship. He lost his father when he was quite young, grew up in poverty, worked rather than going to school, and lived through the Civil War and the Chicago fire. He lost grandchildren, survived a ship wreck, and worked with the urban poor. Moody experienced life’s challenges personally, as well as wading into the difficulties that others were facing. Despite or perhaps because of the challenges he faced, he continued to see God in the midst of trial. Moody once wrote,
“I am so thankful that I have a joy that the world can not rob me of; I have a treasure that the world can not take from me; I have something that is not in the power of man or devil to deprive me of, and that is the joy of the Lord.”
In the midst of challenging times, it can be tempting for Christians to forget to be joyful. Yet, it is in the challenging moments of life that God proves Himself faithful. It is in the challenging moments that God refines us. As James tells us, we are to “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).
Just as Dwight Moody reflects on the joy that cannot be stolen, we would do well to remember that nothing can steal our joy in the Lord. Our trials, as difficult as they may seem, should not distract us from rejoicing in the Lord. Our joy is not derived from our comfort, but from our deep conviction that God is with us in the crucible. Joy comes from our belief that, no matter what is happening, God is shaping us more completely into the image of Jesus Christ.
Joy comes from our belief that, no matter what is happening, God is shaping us more completely into the image of Jesus Christ.
That we can be joyful should not suggest that our trials are trivial. There are many who, in the wake of COVID-19, are facing very real challenges. Truth be told, there are members of the body of Christ around the world for whom sickness is an unfortunate norm, scarcity of resources a continual hardship, and persecution an imminent threat. Even as we rejoice, we should remember that we are fragile … that the systems on which we depend are fragile. Our fragility should point us to the enduring nature of the Kingdom of God and give us a heart of gratitude that overflows with rejoicing knowing that in Christ we are now members of God’s family.
O Lord, may we find the joy of the Lord even in the midst of our trials. We pray that You would teach us what it means to see beyond our troubles, knowing that You are with us. Even so, Lord God, we see the challenges those around us are facing. We ask You to intervene, to be with those who are in need, to prompt us to participate with You as You care for your people, and, most of all, to restore creation and to make all things new. We pray that we would not be anxious, but that You would give us Your peace. Let us live differently in the midst of trial so that the world might see You in us. Amen.
At Moody Center, we are committed to prayer. We ask you to join with us as we pray not only for those who are currently experiencing difficulty due to COVID-19, but for those around the world for whom proclaiming Christ is a dangerous activity, getting enough to eat is not guaranteed, and finding joy in trials is a daily routine. We would invite you to join our prayer community by connecting with us online, coming to campus to walk the campus in prayer, or downloading the prayer guide on our website.
Image source: US Centers for Disease Control
JAMES SPENCER, PHD is President the D.L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and author of Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody and Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind