Life is full of hard things. I get discouraged by little disappointments as much as by major catastrophes, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. Dealing with Adam’s cancer diagnosis and treatment this year have not changed my concern over my kids’ issues with school, friends, activities, and behaviors. I have also had plenty of time to be occupied with my personal angst…. I’ve had days where I couldn’t stand to look at facebook or twitter – happy posts made me rabidly jealous (or I didn’t believe them) and sad posts grieved me as though the struggles were my own. Did I mention a preoccupation with my own angst? I don’t think I can call this year anything my a year of crisis. Medical crisis, emotional crisis, political / financial crisis is even in there. But it was never a year of spiritual crisis. Not liking the ugliness of a fallen world – even feeling rage at it – doesn’t make me mistrust God. It makes me know that He is better than this world. That this is temporary and that is a good thing. This is the only world I know, and without a picture of its brokenness, I would paint it as heaven in my mind. I have a real hope – not just in the world to come, but in my life here and now, that there is purpose even in suffering. I think of the verse that says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). How I wondered at that verse as a child! How can trials make one happy? For me, it’s not that. The beautiful mystery of trials and suffering is that I still have joy. I’m not happy and I rage…and I have joy. “Oh look – joy in the Lord. Huh. Where did that come from?” Duh. So I consider. And yes, I know the rest of the sentence is about perseverance and being made complete in Christ. All that is a peek at why, but I am still considering the simple fact that I can consider it all joy. My mind, heart, and soul are simply too scattered to think, feel, and know only one thing at a time. And some of those things seem inconsistent with each other. But there you have it. Joy. So crisis doesn’t mean loss of hope. It’s not always something to be afraid of. It’s one of the hard things, but it isn’t without meaning.