Yesterday we discussed joy in sorrow. Today we focus on joy in suffering. The Bible never promises believers an easy life, but it does promise that you can have joy in all times. What does this mean exactly? Just like we discussed yesterday, joy is an inner peace, not an outward emotion. That inner peace comes from the Holy Spirit in us and will give us hope, the kind of hope that will allow us persevere through our suffering. This can be manifested in emotions of contentment, satisfaction, and acceptance, despite circumstances that would otherwise cause negative feelings.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
When we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have joy in our hearts, even when we go through suffering. That joy will help us focus on the hope we have. We have hope in our earthly circumstance, but we also have hope in our Lord Jesus. He has conquered this earthly world. Jesus endured much suffering in order to save us. He was flogged, scorned, tortured, beaten, stabbed, and crucified on our behalf. Then he conquered death and this world by coming back from the dead. He then sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us to endure suffering. We might endure the suffering and overcome it in this world. But even if earthly circumstances do not get better, we have a heavenly place waiting for us. That hope helps guide us through our suffering.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This type of joy that we have manifests into a satisfaction or contentment with what we are dealing with. It also allows us to view God in such a way that we can rejoice (or express our joy) through praising and worshipping. We can praise God for all he is, despite what we are suffering through, and we can see our circumstances through his eyes.
However, suffering can also produce things. Without the joy (inner peace), suffering can produce bitterness, anger, resentment, and a host of other negative things. But suffering withjoy can lead to righteousness, better character, and complete faith.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
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.
For those that have gone through suffering and come out on the other side of it, this is easier to see than someone currently going through suffering. However, suffering is character changing. It can harden a person’s heart, or make them more compassionate and understanding. Suffering can produce a bitter person, or it can produce a person with great character. Suffering will make or break a person’s faith. However, the person that leans into Jesus during their suffering, the person who chooses to focus on the hope and promises of God instead of on their current circumstances, will feel the joy of the Lord in their soul. That joy will give them the strength, the energy, and the hope to get through their suffering. Some will be delivered in this life, and others won’t be delivered until their earthly life has passed, but Jesus will deliver them.
This is the joy that allowed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to tell the king, ““O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
They knew they would be delivered. God might deliver them from the fire or he might deliver them by the fire, but either way, they were being delivered. That is the kind of outlook that helps us through our suffering.
And it is important to always remember that Jesus walks through our suffering with us. He is there to strengthen us, comfort us, and give us joy. So during your time(s) of suffering, lean into him and into the joy he gives.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
Thank you for always being with me, even through the dark times. It is not easy to focus on you when I am suffering. Help me to keep my focus on you and not my circumstances. I want the hope and the joy that you offer. Give it to me in abundance. I love you.
- Are you currently suffering? Take some time to talk to the Lord about it.
- Do you have joy in your suffering? If so, thank the Lord for it. If not, ask the Holy Spirit to show it to you.