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Joyful Acceptance: A Response to Trials

Many of you know that I am currently facing a trial. Recently I was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer, and this time it is invasive. I am facing a number of months of surgeries, procedures, and other treatments.

But cancer is not the only trial we face; each of us faces trials every day! We’re told clearly in Scripture that “in this world you will have trouble.” Several years ago, I realized that I needed to prepare for the inevitable trials that I would be facing, so I began to study what my biblical response to difficult circumstances should be. As I studied, I realized that my goal should be Joyful Acceptance. Sarah Dees has kindly taken my (very) rough personal notes on this subject and put together a short summary. My prayer is that these thoughts would encourage you as you face whatever the Lord brings into your life today, whether a big trial or an annoying inconvenience.

As you work through this, remember that it’s a process. God has reminded me many times through my current trial that I can only do this through His strength! He has been gracious to forgive and to strengthen me as I have failed, confessed, and then sought to trust Him and to get back on track.

May each of us joyfully accept God’s good plans for us!

Sending much love,


Note from Sarah: At the bottom of this article, you'll be able to print these notes. You'll also find a one-page summary that just might be a helpful reminder to display on your refrigerator, or to keep folded inside your Bible.

Response to Difficult Circumstances

When a trial comes, stop! Consider and think before rushing into responding.

Recognize — the circumstance as a trial.

Accept — these circumstances as from the hand of God.

Rejoice — knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance (and that is true also in the lives of everyone who knows the Lord, including those I love dearly.)

Review — the character of God, the love of God, the promises of God.

Thank God (Give Thanks) — for and in everything.

Put on Humility — remind myself that I do not have full knowledge and understanding! Don’t lean on my own understanding. Don’t be wise in my own eyes.

Pray — through the details. Yield every single detail.

Trust — that God will indeed work all for good.

Assess — what responsibilities do I have in this situation? (This always includes love to God and love to others. Sometimes my main/only other responsibilities will be to pray and trust.)

Determine — to handle this circumstance in a Christ-like way.

Obey — schedule any next steps.

Depend — on His strength as I obey.

Move on! — leave it with the Lord!

Joyful Acceptance: Acceptance Leads to Joy! (Trust, not control)

  • Immediate, Thankful Acceptance (of Every Circumstance)
    • James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
    • Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
  • Wholehearted, Prayerful Dependence (in Christ’s Power)
    • Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
    • 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
    • Philippians 4:6 “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
    • John 15:5 “Without me you can do nothing.”
    • Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
    • Proverbs 16:3 “Commit (roll upon) your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” (see MacArthur Study Bible note)
  • Confident, Settled Expectation (of Good from God)
    • Romans 15:12 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing/as you trust in him (NIV), so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
    • Romans 8:28 “…we know that God causes all things to work together for good”
    • Romans 8:18 “…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
    • Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…”
    • Psalm 31:19, “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!”
    • “God is greatly honored when, under trial and chastening, we have good thoughts of him, vindicate his wisdom and justice, and recognize his love in his very rebukes.” Pink, The Attributes of God, Faithfulness chapter
    • Based on His love for me!
  • Obedient, Focused Love (for God and Others)
    • Love and Glorify God
    • Love and Serve Others
    • John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
    • 2 Cor. 5:14-15 — “For the love of Christ controls us…He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
    • 1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.”
    • 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

This path leads to…

  • Determined, Tenacious Joy (in God and His Plan)

Matthew Henry note from Matthew 11:29, “To take Christ’s yoke upon us, is to put ourselves in to the relation to servants and subjects to him, and then of [to] conduct ourselves accordingly, in a conscientious obedience to all his commands, and a cheerful submission to all his disposals…”

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