The idea of being able to rejoice in suffering seems terribly backwards to most of us.
How many people do you know that say that while they were in a trial or time of great distress in their life that they truly had joy in that trial? Not many at all.
So…. Why is that?
The first tendency we have during a trial is to only focus on the suffering and not look beyond what is “smack dab” right in front of us.
That tendency while in the middle of suffering causes us to be selfish and make it “all about us”.
That’s where the big problem arises. We make the suffering about us, instead of making it about Him.
Have you ever considered the thought that maybe, just maybe, God loves us so much that He allows us to go through suffering so that we may be able to grow closer to Him?
What a strange thought, that the God that loved us enough to send His son to suffer for us, now asks us to rejoice in suffering so we can grow closer to Him! (Stay with me folks as I explain!)
Never once in Scripture will you see a promise from God that says “You will always be “perky”, every single day will be bright and sunny, and you will always be happy!” -or- “Life as a Christian is easy!”
Modern Western Christianity has tangled up the idea that the Christian life is easy and that we will receive many abundant blessings from God that will make us wealthy, popular and dynamic in every little task we undertake.
This is not real truth at all. It’s a set up for smugness too!
When you read through Scripture, you see Christ telling us that in fact, we will suffer just like he suffered.
So then! How can we be joyful in the midst of suffering? We must try to understand that suffering is not a surprise, but is actually to be anticipated.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you,” 1 Peter 4:12.
We can rejoice because the suffering we are going through doesn’t come as a surprise to God.
It never has, and it never will. Our earthly way of thinking is to view suffering as a strange, shameful and unfruitful thing.
Once we see that suffering changes us and humbles us, we come to know that suffering is meaningful, it has a purpose, and it’s for our good.
Suffering has never been outside of the will of God. It has in fact, always been in the will of God! Romans 8:28 says,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”.
In the middle of this scriptural promise from God is “for good”.
Modern Christianity has twisted this verse and has attempted to make it fit into what WE want it to say.
It does not say for a life a luxury, for a life of glamour, or for a life that benefits us.
The verse says that God works things together for GOOD, which may ALSO mean suffering, but that means that we will bring glory to God in every situation whether it’s in the midst of suffering or through the easier good times.
We can rejoice because it is a part of God’s plan.
By the way, did you know that those who have suffered make the most effective comforters?
It’s true. Empathy and compassion are learned by experiencing loss, pain, betrayal, death and more.
Suffering refines us.
It forms a deep seated compassion inside of us for those who are in agony.
We’ve been there… We get it.
Isaiah 48:10 says it so very clearly.
“I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
The meaning of this verse shows us that pain and suffering have a way of bringing our strengths and weaknesses to the surface.
When the dross and scum float to the surface, God skims it off. He purifies and refines us to be the radiant bride of Christ.
It’s not easy to be challenged and to “suffer” correction or to be treated poorly or with disdain by others wielding the hammers of judgment!
But that type of suffering produces an ability to no longer be deeply offended. Life happens, pain happens and we suffer.
How we allow the fire of suffering to purge us of “self” indicates how willing we are to be refined, changed, and “re-wired”.
Jesus said that His grace is more than enough for you and I. “His power is made obvious and perfect in our weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Whisper this prayer to Him my friends. He’s right here… listening in His merciful compassion.
Comfort me with Your love O God.
Wrap me up in Your strong embrace Shelter me from the storm O Lord!
Gather me up in Your tender care.
During the day I pour out my heartbreak to You and at night I give you my all of my racing thoughts.
In You I take refuge.
In You I will not be afraid.
For you hold me strong, You hold me safe.
Calm my fearful heart O God!
Still my anxious mind O Lord, for all my life is found in You.
All my being is given to You.
All my hope begins in You.
In His Shadow,
~ Mary Lindow ©
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Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others – all generations, careers or vocations to live expressing excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She’s a sought after keynote, inspirational, humorous speaker and teacher across the USA and internationally in Ministers & Spiritual leaders Conferences, and training seminars for various organizations.