Suffering implies experiencing discomfort. No one likes discomfort. But, how you embrace it depends on your perspective. In this post, I’m going to explain how to be full of joy even if you’re suffering.
Times when I have hit the gym to get in shape normally results in a lot of discomfort the next day. But, I know the pain and soreness is part of me taking a step closer to fitness; so I embrace it. It is not quite as easy to embrace discomfort experienced from getting laid off, going through a health crisis, or being put in a position to work with a very difficult person. However, it is possible to be full of joy even if you’re suffering right now.
Our view of suffering influences how we deal with it
You may view suffering as a consequence of actions that led you out of God’s protection or covering. Such a view perceives hardship as a sign that sin is lurking somewhere in your life. You may also view it as an attack from the enemy. In either case, you are naturally inclined to do whatever it takes for the pain to stop or difficulty to end. Could you, however, be missing God’s work in the midst of all this?
In Romans 5 NIV, as Paul makes a case for the basis of our salvation through faith in Christ, he throws in an interesting comment on suffering in verse 3 and 4
“… but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …”
This is interesting because what we see here is that if we endure suffering, the end state is that it produces character and hope. And this is a reason to rejoice. We see a similar assertion in James 1: 2-4 NIV.
“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.”
In essence, suffering, trials and hardship can be a tool in God’s hands to makes us more like Christ.
God can use suffering, trials, and hardship as tools when we endure, rather than try to escape or avoid it. Just like the soreness and pain from working out, we can endure the discomfort because God is using it to make us more like Jesus, even if we may not completely get it at the moment.
When that crazy driver next to you is testing your patience on the road, or that rude co-worker or you experience a series of unfortunate events, think on these things. As crazy as it may sound or seem to those around you, you may just have a reason to rejoice. As you ask God for wisdom, ask for grace to endure. If you keep your eyes on the fact that once you have endured this specific challenge, you are one step closer to being like Him, you can find some joy in suffering.