A few weeks ago, I had the joy of speaking at Creation Fest, a four-day family festival.

It was a lovely, low-key, laid back, Jesus-focused festival, which combined a wonderful mix of worship bands and singers of all musical styles, plenty of Bible-based talks and seminars, programmes for children, activities for teenagers, skateboarding, coffee shops, book stores, baptisms and more.

It also happened to be set against the backdrop of beautiful Cornwall, not far from the coast, in one of my most favourite parts of the UK.

This year’s festival theme was “Rhythms of Faith“, and I had been invited to speak about ‘modern-day miracles’, with a focus on the types of rhythms God uses to ‘break in’ when life turns tough.

But what I hadn’t banked on was Storm Antoni!

Here in the UK, when the Met Office (our national weather service) names a storm, it communicates that the coming storm is going to be exceptionally severe, powerful, and highly likely to cause devastation to anything (and anyone) in its path.

So when I heard that Storm Antoni was coming to visit the South West of the UK – on the very day I was due to be speaking, with its peak scheduled to coincide precisely with my seminar – I knew it could be tricky to deliver!

What followed were multiple discussions and decisions amongst the team who were organising the festival, an incredible sense of calm, and lots of last minute alterations to the timetable. As a result, everyone whose sessions were scheduled to take place in marquees, be they speakers or musicians, myself included, were moved into solid structure buildings. It was a squash and a squeeze, but it worked.

And so it was that I found myself standing in a small corner of the volunteers’ dining area, not far from the door. The space was packed to capacity with people sitting around large round tables, the remnants of lunch still evident. An impromptu AV system had been set up, with a microphone and a small screen. We were good to go.

Yet up above, the rain was hammering down on the corrugated iron roof. Outside, the wind was whipping up a gale, reaching heights that I later discovered to be 55 mph, and my notes kept being blown off the makeshift podium.

Just beyond the safety screen came the clanking sounds of crockery, cutlery, pots and pans, being washed up and put away. At the other end of the building, a live band was playing beautiful acoustic music. And over it all came the hubbub of conversations being carried across from various parts of the high-ceiling, barn-like building.

It felt like a test: Could I continue, in spite of all that was being chucked at me?

I knew that the Holy Spirit was with me in that moment, strengthening and sustaining me. I knew that the message God had given me to bring was one that would give glory and honour to Jesus. And I knew I had a handful of incredible friends who were all-hands-on-deck to provide me with practical support, right there and then, in that space.

Somehow it came together.


Have you ever faced tests and trials – whether temporary or longer term – which seem to come out of nowhere?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” James tells us, in James 1: 2-3, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Pure joy’?! Is that how you view the tests and trials that come your way? I know I don’t.

But then I have to remind myself that ‘joy’ is not the same as ‘happiness’.

Happiness comes and goes, dictated by circumstances. But joy rises above circumstances, because it’s an outworking of our faith in Jesus. When we choose joy, when we choose to ‘rejoice’ in the Lord, notwithstanding our circumstances, it becomes our strength: “The joy of the Lord is your strength”(Nehemiah 8: 10).

As for the purpose of the tests and trials, James seems to suggest that they are sometimes designed to produce perseverance in our faith.

At other times they are assessing our integrity. To quote King David, in 1 Chronicles 29: 17: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity”.

Whatever the reason – whether it’s to produce perseverance, or to assess our integrity – it’s as if the Lord is asking us: Do you have what it takes? Are you tenacious enough to face this? Will you hold firm to me, so that we see it through together? Will I be pleased with the way you handle it?


Everything within me would rather have had things go to plan on that recent storm-soaked Saturday in Cornwall. But the fact it didn’t turned out to be a blessing.

Standing in that volunteer dining area, with all the din and distraction swirling around me, I knew I had to make a decision to choose to consider it ‘pure joy’!  

I can also see now how the Lord was using it to demonstrate “light through the cracks” in action!


Are you facing a test or a trial at the moment? If so, why don’t you make a decision to consider it ‘pure joy’? If you know you’ll find this difficult, how about asking God to help you make that choice?

And if you have recently faced a test or a trial, now you have the benefit of hindsight, why do you think God permitted it? What was its purpose? Was it to produce perseverance in your faith? Or to assess the integrity of your heart? Or for some other reason?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below!

Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for August. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Image from Creation Fest UK.



  1. Thank you for this reminder. It can be hard to stay positive when things keep getting thrown at you. I was talking to someone, just this morning, about the joy that comes from the Lord, even when the storm is raging. I can feel grumpy at times because of my health issues, but I have been reminded to consider it pure joy to face the trials that come my way and to know that I will come out stronger on the other side. My faith always grows then. I remember Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, when he talks about God’s grace being sufficient for him and that, when we are weak, God is strong. God has shown me time and time again how that works out and I can absolutely say that His grace is sufficient for me. I may grumble to God about it sometimes, but I know He is with me and is strong when I am weak. Thank you for your inspiring stories.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this ‘thought for the month’. I’m sorry to hear about your health issues, and how this can make you feel grumpy at times. But I’m glad to hear that God’s joy and grace are sustaining and strengthening you.

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