Joy in Suffering
“My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking” (James 1:2,3)
Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are to be exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. It DOES teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.
Christians can, and should, rejoice in tribulation because they have eternity’s values in view. When the pressures are on, they look beyond their present predicament to an eternal glory.
“The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”
The early Christians were able to experience joy in their hearts in the midst of trials, troubles and depression. They counted suffering for Christ not as a burden or misfortune but as a great honour, as evidence that Christ counted them worthy to witness for Him through suffering. They never forgot what Christ Himself had gone through for their salvation, and to suffer for His name’s sake was regarded as a gift rather than a burden.
When we read the book of Acts, we soon realize that suffering and death intensified the JOY of the early Christians.
The Apostle Paul could write, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Cor 7:4). In all his sufferings and sorrows he experienced a deep, abiding joy. He writes of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10). With sincerity he declared that for Christ’s sake he was content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities (2 Cor 12:10).
In these days of darkness and upheaval and uncertainty, the trustful and forward-looking Christian remains optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ must reign, and “if we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim 2:12).