What does it mean to consider trials a joy?

Does it mean we slap a silly smile on our faces and shout "Praise the Lord!" when we receive news that would devastate any normal human being? Certainly not. That's not joy in the Lord, that's plain 'ol lunacy in the flesh; masquerading as a strong and faithful Christian.

A counterfeit joy infused by self-will never produces the good fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
~James 1:2-4

I'm writing this from my hospital bed. I've been here since Tuesday (February 28, 2012). I'm scheduled to have a double discectomy (complete removal and replacement of two discs) and spinal fusion tomorrow at noon. It's a four hour surgery and from what I've been told by my neurosurgeon, a painful and long recovery.

I'll remain in the hospital for three to four days post-op, then be released to go home with pain medications that they said I may need for a few months. I'm hoping to use them only for a couple of weeks...tops. But we shall see.

As I write this, I'm currently in pain, so much so, though my spirits are high and I'm rather cheerful, the blood pressure monitor tells the hospital staff another story—my body is weak and is under a lot stress due to immense pain...thus the pain pump they've given me to be administered every six minutes.

Since the hospital staff left "Today's Plan" blank, my
darling husband saw this as an opportunity to share
what our plans were going to be. ☺ 
I've been asked by staff why I seem so "cheery" when I'm obviously in pain. And here's where I get to boast in my weaknesses and the power of Christ they are witnessing in spite of it (2 Cor 12:9-10).

Do I hurt? Yes! Am I excited to be here. No! Did I jump for "joy" when I was told I needed surgery? No. Was I honest about it. Yes. So, then, why can I still find peace, comfort and joy in the midst of pain and not-so-good news? Because my strength, my joy is set on the Rock of my salvation, on the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, it is not easily shaken (Psalm 62:2).

I had my moment of tears and fears, but there is truly a time and place for everything. There is a time to weep and there is certainly a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

Laughter doesn't always come because we find something amusing or entertaining; sometimes, like these times, they come because we find things incredible and impossible (like Sarah laughed when God told her she would be pregnant in her old age). The mighty works of our heavenly Father are so beyond our capacity to fully understand His glorious ways, sometimes, all we can do is laugh. We laugh not because we find God amusing, but because we're so amazed and so in awe of what He has done and continues to do in our lives.

I don't find joy in my pain. I find joy in my Savior and what He chooses to use my pain to produce—lasting fruit that will be used by God to exhort and encourage other saints and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those He came to save.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Our joy comes from knowing that God uses even the painful, "bad" things in our lives to work for our eternal benefit; conforming us more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). This is why, when we consider our trials a joy, we will lack nothing. For what more could we gain, than to be like our Master?