I've heard it said that if you're not in a trial you're probably just coming out of one, or you're heading into one. It used to bother me. I never really thought that was a very "Christian" perspective... You know the whole "joy of the Lord is my strength" thing. What I'm coming to realize is that it's true: all of it.
I'm reading "To Live is Christ" by Beth Moore. It's all about the life of the apostle Paul. Boy, talk about suffering and trials! I don't know if I could stand up under half the life he lived through. But Beth addresses the idea of Christianity as a life of prosperity only, and why as Christians we will suffer. It seems like such a morbid topic, I guess. But in reality it makes sense. Basically she comes to the conclusion that as Christians we aren't exempt from the trials of life, and we're probably prime targets for attacks of the enemy. But God is able to take the things that the enemy plans to harm us with and turn them into something good!
Although we have trials, and sometimes life just plain stinks, God can always turn our situation around for good. Not only that, but He will always use whatever happens to us for His glory if we allow Him to!
I also believe that sometimes God leads us into times that seem so hard, painful, void, desert places, so that He can work in us. Have you noticed that the hardest times are the times you're closest to God? Maybe not. Maybe you're always spiritually in tune, but I know that up until recently for me this has proved to be true. Lately God has really been teaching me about daily discipline and living in His presence. But I know that in my life it has always been out of the "desert times" that I have come away the strongest in my relationship with Him.
I heard a speech recently where the speaker talked about Joseph. She mentioned all the crazy things he'd been through, and how eventually he ended up in the palace. She came to the conclusion that the pit, the prison, the dungeon was only preparation for the palace. All that time, years of his life, he spent just being himself, then getting thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, thrown into prison, was only in preparation for who God was making him to be. You ever notice how going into the pit was a product of his big-mouthed-boldness and pride in the dreams God had given him? But coming out of the prison was a result of humility and sharing only what God gave him to share. I think maybe Joseph learned something through all the trouble he went through. In the end he was even able to see that though some intended to harm, God only intended good.
You see it truly is only through the joy of the Lord that we have strength to endure the pit, the prison, and the desert. We can't do it on our own. Joseph could have felt sorry for himself and thrown a fit, refused to be a "slave" because he was a "free man". He could have refused to serve Potiphar well, but instead he served as unto the Lord. That sometimes is the hardest part: serving God by serving those who treat you like you don't matter, or you're just there to serve them... But isn't that truly why we are here? To serve? Isn't that what Jesus did?
No matter what you may be going through, determine in your heart that you will live your life as unto the Lord. Because you are. Your life is so precious to him. He sees you in the pit. He sees you in the prison. He sees you in the desert. And He alone is your portion, your joy, your strength. He alone can raise you out of the "depths of despair" (thank you Anne Shirley) and put you into the palace. It is, after all, where you belong, you know. You are a child of the King of kings!