It is admittedly a challenge to “count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds” (Jms.1:2). But if we start by understanding that “counting it joy” is not the same as “enjoying” or “feeling good” about the painful situations in our lives, it may help us to see this biblical command as reasonable. Joy is more profound than just feeling good. Joy, in this case, has to do with the gratifying acceptance of our present circumstances as something sovereignly and profitably intended by God. It is the positive assessment in our own minds that God is governing our difficult circumstances to accomplish something constructive and beneficial.
And not all those benefits are years away. For instance, the Bible often reminds us that our current struggles serve to confirm (to us!) the reality of our faith. Certainly God already knows, but our trials prove much about what we say we believe. Peter refers to it as the “tested genuineness” of our faith (1Pt.1:7). By contrast, Jesus spoke of those whose faith is synthetic, being quick to bail out when the going gets tough (Mk.4:17).
To take a moment to ponder that a difficult season of life is revealing the authenticity of our connection with the living God is certainly something to be “glad” about. Biblical observations like these may not make our trials “feel good,” but they can certainly lead to a “joyful” outlook amid all the difficulties.