Count it All a Joy

I messed up… so I was planning to study abroad in the Fall. I have this amazing opportunity to study abroad in Rome with some of the most beautiful people and I couldn’t have been more excited for it. But I kind of forgot about the whole student visa thing. I just kept forgetting to make an appointment and, finally, last night I went to make my reservation. I figured I had plenty of time but instead I found out the Italian consulate does not have a single appointment until September (you need the appointment two months before leaving)… I am supposed to be there August 24th.

Last night I didn’t really handle this well. I had a full blown panic attack and it felt like no matter how much I repeated, “Jesus, I trust in You” in my head there was no peace. The devil’s lies snuck in so fast I didn’t even know what was happening until they were already there. But my guardian angel was there and he/she (do angels even have a gender?) wrapped me in his wings and took the brunt of the attack so that I could keep my eyes focus on the Father and rest peacefully.

I feel like that is a reaction a lot of us have experienced. Whether it was more or less intense or the situation was a lot worse or better we’ve all been there. Something goes wrong and we want to trust Him but anxieties overwhelm logic and the situation feels impossible. It was in prayer this morning that Jesus gave me some advice I didn’t quite expect.trust (1 of 2)

Seeking comfort, I instead heard, “Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust me.” In the Letter of James 1:2-3 he says, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials. For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  Count it all a joy – wow, alright. Count it a joy that I may not be able to go to Rome. Count it all a joy that a person you love is sick. Count it all a joy that the boy you like doesn’t even know you exist. Count it all a joy that you have this cross in your life right now. That’s not the frilly message a lot of people want to preach about our God. Because God doesn’t promise us a life without hardships and suffering. In fact, He actually guarantees it if you follow Him, but he does promise that with Him, no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle.

Last night my anxiety took control because when I looked at the situation I tried to solve it on my own. I didn’t see myself as capable of fixing this problem as a young woman who has zero understanding of politics or consulates or anything of that sort. I was a small nobody – why would the Italian consulate even consider pushing my visa application through? But this morning I realized that I was measuring my own strength against this challenge, not God’s, and as said in Jesus’ Calling this morning, “that calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety.”

God is bigger than a silly Italian consulate. God is bigger than a disease. God is bigger than a crush. God is bigger than this universe and there is no wall He will not break down for you. In moments where the problem seems too big or your anxiety starts to overwhelm your logic fill your thoughts and words with trust and thankfulness. Bethel church had a conference this weekend and I was listening to some of the worship from it and Jeremy Riddle said this and it stuck with me – there is victory in shouts of praise. The devil loses his footing when, despite our struggles, we sing and shout of God’s victory. Jeremy Riddle literally had to whole crowd scream and you could feel the chains breaking.
When it feels like too much, put on some praise and worship music and sing Gods praises. If that isn’t your style I challenge you to literally go outside somewhere and shout. Just scream the scream of a battle cry in a war already won. And if that isn’t your style… Sit in silence reflecting on James 1:2-3, or Philippians 4:13, or Matthew 11:30. We must recognize God’s victory and know that if He can rise from the dead after being tortured and killed in the most painful way then He can do the same thing for us. We have to believe in a God of miracles, and maybe that miracle is not what we thought it would be. Maybe I won’t be able to go to Rome, maybe that sick person doesn’t get better, maybe that boy never likes you but God’s plan is in it all and His miracles are in it all and we must Trust and be grateful knowing His path will lead us to perfect peace.