About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

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  1. Thank you so much dear Alia for this precious word today. You broke my heart and provided healing all at the same time. I am deeply touched by this message and I pray that God will continue to bless you in your ministry here at (in)courage and in your home community.

    Thank you so much

    April x
    Liverpool UK

      • It truly is amazing! I am so grateful for all that God has done in my life and how He mends me, daily mends me. It is a joy to follow him. I can see that through your writing as well Alia, so thank you again.

        Blessings, xx

  2. This is brilliant. I live in Tanzania, and had honestly never considered it in this way, as being at contrast with the “safety-conscious” American culture. But it is so true.

    • Right? Everywhere I went there was something to fall off of or run into. Even the traffic was a crazy adventure. I think we have a lot to learn about trusting God when all our modern conveniences seems to alleviate the need for Him at all.

  3. Alia Joy,
    As you pointed out, God draws near to the broken hearted. When we lead a “safe” existence we often miss out on the closest encounters with a loving God. In all my years, I can look back and it is in the darkest trials that I grew to truly know Christ best. When tears fell, that’s when He wrapped His strong loving arms around me and held me close like the feeble lamb. I’m not saying those were easy times – they weren’t, but they were the times that laid my heart bare to His transforming love. Thanks for sharing this message in a way that we can truly relate to. Love your writing…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Yes, my deepest grief and sorrow brought about the most profound intimacy with God. It doesn’t always make it easy but it does make it worth it. We’ll go through trials either way, counting it joy without whitewashing it brings glory to God and relevance to our hard days. Thanks for being such a faithful reader. I love how you encourage us.

  4. Your thoughts are very inspiring. This is exactly what my church is speaking about these days in a series called RISK. It calls us out to risk for Christ and not stand by the sidelines to be safe. It is indeed a challenge but your message to me underlines the fact that our culture in America is all about safety and helps me to view my watered down faith. I will no longer view hurt or trials in the same way, hopefully graduating towards the fullness of what God has planned for me. Thank you for your faithfulness in writing a view that may be difficult to embrace.

    • Aimy, I love that you’re seeking God in this way. I think a world that knows this truth, that we can grieve and embrace those in hard times, all the while worshipping God and knowing He is with us, will shine like nothing else. It’s easy to praise God when everything lines up. How do we worship when life fails us?

  5. Wow, I needed that reminder of the reason and the redemption of it all. God bless!

  6. This is beautiful and raw and oh, such a necessary message to hear. You are direct and honest, yet your readers are safe with you. Thank you for this.

    • Oh Christan, I hope so. I want to always write truth but I don’t ever want to blather on or build a heavy load. God shoulders this with us and we shoulder it with each other. Grace makes the journey lighter.

  7. a controlled existence seems to be the goal of many…just keeping it between the ditches… I want to walk a life where sadness and joy can be mingled together… isn’t this Christ… with the joy set before Him… but He had to endure the cross…suffering. Thanks for this beautiful post.

    • I see so many people wrestling with a controlled existence and there simply is no such thing. We live a wild life or none at all. Every season brings new things and God is in control of them all. We have to learn faith in the hard times and joy in the grieving seasons. The only way to do that is to know and walk with Him wherever he leads.

  8. Timely, needed…and I would have written myself! Been on my mind a lot as I pray that God would wreck our church so we are desperate for him- made uncomfortable for Him. May the Spirit continue his whispers to so many of us to courageously step out and speak out as well.

    • Those are dangerous prayers. 😉 He’s so faithful to move us into deeper faith and that always means uncharted waters.

  9. Thank you for sharing. I was in the midst of writing this morning…looking for a “why and how” of pain. And if a way to get through.

    • God offers us so much peace and joy and rest. He is our only way through. Praying you feel His presence this morning in the midst of the pain and trials you’re facing.

  10. LOVE the realness of these thoughts. I have an 18 year old son who is having a really hard time right now.
    He grew up in church and has recently been drumming for the Youth Group for the past year. He is stepping down from what he loves (drumming) because he feels pushed and prodded into other things as a leader (being part of worship team is considered leadership).

    I’m not saying the things that he is being pushed toward arent good things that draw a person closer to God. They are good things…..what I am saying is that in the pushing he is driven further from that very relationship with God.

    How do we take our good intentions for those we love and walk in reality with them when they dont have any want? How do we love someone through to the other side without it looking like we approve of current choices? My heart is so grieved for the hurt caused my son all in the name of wanting him to be closer to God.

    • It’s always hard as a mother. Seeing our kids go through trials is, in my opinion, a million times harder than my own. We need to lean in to God for our kids. Trusting him and asking for wisdom and grace in situations where we just don’t know what to do. I’m so sorry this has all been so hard.

  11. Your words “grieve while we believe” is exactly how we are supposed to live in Him, when we go through such terrible trials. We still trust our wonderful God to make something ‘beautiful’ out of the pain. His Word says we will absolutely go through trials, some very fiery, but He is always with us in each trial, fighting for us, protecting us all the way…and He will get the glory in the end, when we come out the ‘other side’. These are the very words my good friend needs to hear today. She is grieving the loss of her beautiful 22 year old niece in an accident, and not doing well. Thank you for this post today to remind us Christians that we WILL go through trials on this earth, and it should drive us to Christ when we go through them. And the best thing of all – in the end – we win!
    Bless you!

    • Yes, and sometimes I think grieving while believing brings us to places where we doubt. I think God is big enough to handle our moments of weak faith if we bring them to him. We need to be a safe place for others to hurt and struggle even while we believe for them.

  12. I just commented, but just saw you are from Central Oregon too. I’m in KFalls. So nice to meet another fellow Oregonian. 😉
    Bless you as you bless others!

  13. I have been musing over the same things these past few weeks… I’ve struggled with a gospel that includes heartache and pain and yet when I see how it can actually be a gift in my life it makes me realize how much I desperately need Jesus! Thank you so much for your words and friendship.

    • Weakness always reveals our need for a savior. I see God clearest when the world seems the hardest, or at the very least, in the aftermath of the hard. I don’t always have answers and it’s often a mess but yes, so much desperate need for Jesus. Love you, friend. I owe you a vox. It’s on my list of things to do.

  14. I have been struggling with this for the past 20 years. I was saved and spent my teenaged years in the faith movement. It seemed right at the time but when I got sick and didn’t get better I really had to look at things. I did everything right (or what they said was right) and yet I still got up every day hurting physically. At the beginning, everyone was there with support and prayer but as the days turned into months and the months turned into years I became very alone. It caused me to rethink what I believed and why. It drove me into God. I know that God still heals and rescues…I have seen it. I know that our words have power and that faith is a powerful thing-but I also know that He also asks a lot of us to walk through the storms of life. To trust Him no matter what. Your words speak to the heart of what I have been feeling and seeking to learn more about. You just say it so well. Thank you!

    • I love this—>it drove me into God. YES! He does heal and rescue and make whole but sometimes the healing and rescue looks like trials and pain and he’s at work in our spirits to learn to lean hard into him and know him and walk with him at our weakest. Praying you grow to know him more and find fellowship with him in your suffering.

  15. Oh my goodness friend! This!

    If we fail to dig into a theology of suffering and the way we as Christ followers will hurt right alongside a broken world, we write off people’s trials as an anomaly or a reaping they had coming instead of a place we connect with God’s solace and peace and even our purpose in walking with and weeping with those who weep.

    Been pondering this same idea after walking through years of loss. Lost babies and parents and how are we as the body of Christ supposed to respond to another’s loss…to their pain.

    So, so good girl. Thank you for so beautifully sharing this tension. So important!

    • Oh goodness, there has been no end to the tragic news lately. So many friends and loved ones facing horrible loss and sickness and trial after trial. And some of those I know don’t want to walk with God anymore at all. They can’t fathom the suffering and the mercy could coincide in Jesus. It breaks my heart that we don’t always do a good job of being with people in their pain. I’m so thankful that you’re there in the tension with those mamas and their families ministering through it all. You are a blessing.

  16. I have just sat down and read these timely words in ‘ Consider it Joy’ which have spoken to my heart… A dear friend of mine is suffering a lot of pain due to broken bones and complications with osteoporosis, The desire to step in and take the pain from her is literally overwhelming and yet impossible..we can’t put it right for her. We can simply be there for her physically, emotionally and spiritually. I say we, because there are others in our church who have responded to this suffering,trying to simply do what we can do and leave the rest to our loving Father ( to strengthen her where we cannot, in this time of suffering). My friend lives alone.. that is the hardest thing and actually is the most frustrating thing too… Because we know the Bible truth ‘ two are better than one’. We pray and we make ourselves available, yet cannot truly fill the hole of aloneness. Pain, sorrow and suffering, all of these Jesus entered into here on earth and this comforts me to know He enters into my friend’s pain and suffering, with an intimacy that we cannot.’Bear one anothers burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ’, these words fill my heart and I ask of the Lord to teach me to do that more and more.

  17. Thank you for these words of truth! I had always felt “less than” others in the Christian community. It wasn’t until I participated on an Emmaus retreat team that the griefs of my fellow travelers was apparent! Their outsides didn’t share the pain of their insides…they struggled too. EVRERYBODY HAS A STORY! Thank you again.

    • Yes, so true. We all have it together until we don’t. And I think that is the first part of being people who know how to grieve and lament and walk together in the hard times. It’s admitting we have them and being vulnerable enough to admit where we lack or need or doubt and be met right there.

  18. Thank you Alia,

    I loved your experience about how loving God is not a neat, safe, package with instructions. I feel that every day I must break my heart OPEN. I have to release what I know and become open to the beautiful light that is available everywhere when I open my arms wide in trust and faith. The love of God, man and myself continues to grow as long as I release my neat little package about how my life should be because life is full of surprises. Your post so eloquently expressed that. Thank you. God is good!

    • It’s a tension to live in the dreams we have (often ones God’s even given us) and letting go of expectations that things will turn out exactly as we hoped. I think that’s where the walking with God comes in. We can do both. Live with great expectations of Him sovereignly at work and yet be ok when things seem to fail knowing He is still with us.

  19. Beautifully, beautifully expressed!

    If we think about all the stories and people in the Bible we will be reminded that the Christian life has never been safe, but our security is that the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us, and only He can work all things together for good!

  20. Yes. It’s funny. In the midst of the hardest single trial of my life, it was joy for me to trust Him. But bring on many, small inconveniences and I am a crying, whining mess. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” THAT is true joy.

    • Some people handle crisis well and some fall apart. Some handle the everyday stresses and some find they take a tremendous toll. We’re all made to rely on God but yes, I’m not great in crisis but good at the everyday faith. My mom is the exact opposite and handles crazy hard things smoothly, but small inconveniences have her frenzied. I think we learn to lean in and navigate those troubles however they come the more we believe what you just wrote. He has overcome the world so we do take heart. Joy!

  21. Thank you for sharing! This couldnt have come at a more perfect time for me! Thank you!

  22. Great article. Been suffering a trial for three months and it’s been incredibly difficult. God sure gets your attention and I have learned much. He keeps encouraging me though to preservere and be patient. He will restore in His good timing and I will never be the same again.

    • Yes. I always think on 1 Peter 5:6-10 as a remembrance to persevere in the midst of trials and to hold to the promises of God. Hang in there, God is faithful.

  23. Thank you Alia Joy foy sharing this and comforting me. I’ve seen and experienced so much heartache and sadness some of my doing but most for following Christ. People don’t embrace or embrace short term. I actually had a woman get up and move from sitting beside me and I believe it is because I was crying, having a moment. I believe there is so much anger, depression…in the world because we don’t give people safe places to cry and feel. We want fake, I’m fine and phony. God calls us to help others heal. I believe our North American culture has not taught that well. I have people come to me often when they are going through because I give them permission to grieve, ache, cry let it go and now we can move on to heal. I praise him cause God is close to the broken hearted and that makes us more like Jesus cause He was broken hearted for us.

    • Yes, we can comfort others in the ways we’ve been comforted. Pointing to Christ. I think deep down we all long for authentic. Those people who seem to avoid it, they’ve got their own stories too. God is at work in his people. He is our safe place and we should demonstrate that for others.

  24. so much good here . . . . this is the cap for me. ” What does the gospel offer us in this pain if we cannot be people who grieve even while we believe? ”

    the messages are so wrong – because I have friends who do help carry the load and understand grief, brokenness and faith all mixed together, I like to think it’s getting better, but then i run into the world who is still separating it all out and I am sad.

    this was good.

    • It can be discouraging to look around and see how often we believe them to be separate instead of holistic. That God is in it all. We need to be better at this and it starts with spending time with Jesus. Just getting to know his heart. He’s so close to the broken. How could we be any different?

  25. As one who is both grieving and believing, a million times YES and AMEN to the truths you have boldly proclaimed here. If we can’t find God in our suffering, I’m not sure we can find him. It’s such a challenged to enter into the suffering of others (without trying to make it “go away”) and yet we have to find ways to be together there in our communities – in those hard places of loss, brokenness, doubt, and confusion.

    Praying right now for all those who read this post who are in the midst of their own personal suffering. May they take comfort in knowing the nearness of Jesus.

    Thanks Alia.

    • Yes, that tension is so hard. I tend to want to be a fixer and some trials are too hard to mend. We can only join in and shoulder the burden by being there with nothing more to offer than our friendship and prayers. And even that has limitations. No one person can take it all on. No one except Jesus. Amen, friend.

  26. Thank you for presenting this huge lack in our Americanized Christianity, Alia. Once again, I am astounded by your ability to zero right in on an aspect of our human condition that rankles my heart. We are, indeed, a culture that despises lack- and that is a shame. For, it’s in the lack that I most often find Jesus waiting with so much grace and bounty.

    This is one I’ll be rereading again! Thank you, friend.

    • I love seeing you here, Missy. Yes, it’s sad that we do because I think we’re so much worse off for it, but I think the tide is changing. I see so many that are tired of pretense, tired of having it all together, they just want to exhale and admit how much it hurts when this life is not at all what they dreamed and they’re not at all what they hoped. And yet, God in the midst of that is glorious. Even still, God is at work. Those are the stories I love. Grace that covers the mess. Jesus’s power in weakness. Glory!

  27. Powerful. So much wisdom and depth in this post, I’m going to need to re-read it several times. Thank you so much for sharing.

  28. Alia,

    I know God allows suffering down here to bring us closer to Him. When life is easy and going well–we tend to forget Him or only spend a few minutes with Him daily! It is those trials and sufferings that break us and shape us into true good Christians.

    Americans have it way to easy. We want church to be a 1 hr. ritualistic program where we sing a few songs, pray some, hear a feel good sermon and then go home till next week. In other countries people travel for hours to come hear the gospel and don’t mind sitting there for hours listening. They truly worship God sometimes risking life to do so!@

    Blessings 🙂

    • Yes, don’t give me so much I forsake you or too little that I curse you but let my heart be content in any and every situation. It really is a heart condition. I grew up with missionary parents and have so many other cultural roots so I’ve been very disillusioned at times by the American church. But I’ve learned to love her so much. I believe God does and I can’t help think she’s all we’ve got. She just needs a good kick in the pants at times. 😉

  29. Dear friend Alia…I knew you wrote this even before I saw your name half way through. You have no idea how timely this was…written for my broken heart just to read today. Thank you.

  30. Alia, thanks for words from your heart. Life is not cut and dried list of rules…do this and you will be successful, as well as being a Christian….all good? No. But God is there in our midst if we are believers and trust Him, no matter what comes our way. We struggle with daughter job searching…there’s one she wants….it didn’t happen, which broke my heart! God gave me peace that another job will be there for her. We don’t know when or what. Safety and security in another land is different. Nicaragua had road signs but few people heeded them. Just like anybody else! Hugs and thanks for sharing God’s thoughts from your writing!