Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way, and then that. If you don't ask with faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer. James 1: 2-8 (TLB)
Tim Pietz lives in Wisconsin. During his teenage years, his greatest suffering was loneliness. Year after year, he prayed for deep Christian friendships. But year after year, God answered, "Not yet," and Tim wondered why. Hadn't he put effort into finding friendships? Wouldn't godly friendships help him grow in his relationship with God? Wasn't strong Christian fellowship a part of God's plan?
The book of James tells us to consider sufferings as joy because suffering strengthens and matures us into who God calls us to be. While Tim was alone during his teenage years, he learned to depend on God and to empathize with and reach out to those who were unpopular. He learned to value and strengthen the relationships he already had, especially with his siblings. Lastly, being alone - reading and thinking - moved Tim to put those thoughts on paper and gave him the courage to share his writing with others.
God does not tell us that suffering is joyful. Suffering is suffering, and the loneliness Tim experienced was not in itself a good thing. Still, God tells us to "consider it pure joy." Now, Tim can consider that loneliness as joy because of what God has brought about through it.
Prayer: Dear Lord, through whatever we are suffering today, help us find joy in trusting you so that we may learn to persevere and become more like Jesus, in Jesus' name. Amen.