Facing suffering with joyNovember 15, 2017
It’s easy to say, “Endure for the night,” or, “Joy comes in the morning,” or “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” These are the words I would often use when encouraging someone who’s facing trials at the time.
Then reality struck. I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 2011, and I found myself facing the most difficult time—faced with what used to be my biggest fear. I was sick and the worst part of it was when doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was young, scared, and I thought this is the end.
It’s Jesus who said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). There’s persecution, sickness, heartache, and the loss of loved ones. These are some of the trials faced by saints in the Bible. We clearly know of Moses with the children of Israel; Daniel in Babylon; and the churches of the New Testament.
These are the very same things we go through today and what the next generation will go through. Suffering seems like a given.
As for me, I cried to God. I was on my knees seeking his help but nothing seemed to happen. God seemed to be silent. I thought of Job, a faithful servant of God. He had lost so much—his wealth, his children, and on top of that he was struck by a disease that left him bedridden. In the midst of these trials, he still had faith; he persevered because he knew that God would never leave him. He knew God was faithful.
I remembered that God was for me. It might seem like he’s silent, but he’s with me and he’ll save me. Suffering brings us closer to God and it teaches us to endure. I may be suffering now but tomorrow I’ll come out of it even more joyous. “There’s a time for everything,” writes Solomon, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:4).
Suffering brings us closer to God and it teaches us to endure. tweet
Endure for the night
Being a follower of Christ comes with suffering. Christ suffered. Apostle Paul suffered. Stephen suffered. Actually, most of the followers of Christ in the early church and throughout history suffered. Therefore, it should be expected that we will also suffer as the children of God. We should expect to suffer at some point in our lives, yet when it strikes we are startled and we ask, why is this happening? Why now?
Suffering is hard. Regardless of what we know and no matter how much we seek to apply God’s Word, it’s still going to hurt. Suffering is a process, it takes time. We have to endure. During trials, your faith is tested, and when it succeeds, the results include the ability to endure. Your endurance should carry you all the way without failing, so that “you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4).
Hope for the future
It doesn’t end here, there’s life after death—eternal life promised to Christians. That’s what I look forward to. Worshipping the Creator and singing praises to him who is seated on the throne.
We should imitate the apostle Paul who was “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10). Paul said he was sorrowful and yet at the same time rejoicing. This means to have joy in trials is not to deny pain. It is to recognise the fact that they can exist together.
Now, one may ask, “How can sorrow and rejoicing exist together?” They can co-exist in the same way an expectant mother can go through the travail of birth and still have joy in thinking about what is to come. She has joy because she has the right focus as she considers this new baby that will be birthed into the world. In the same way, believers must have the right focus in order to have joy in their trials.
We should focus on the benefits of salvation such as being saved from the coming wrath of God against sinners. Jesus has also delivered us from our enemies. The Christian’s future glory cannot be compared to the present sufferings (Rom. 8:18).
Brothers and sisters let’s focus on our relationship with God. Let’s have the right focus. Let’s focus on eternal life and we’ll be able to face trials with joy.