Finding Joy in Suffering
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~James 1:2-4
Have you ever dreaded going to the gym? I’m not sure about you, but a part of me always procrastinates when it comes to workout time.
More often than not, we hear excuses after excuses on why we can’t make it to the gym or carve out time for exercising (most commonly, “I don’t have time….”) but not very often do we hear post-workout regrets. That’s the thing with suffering. No one looks forward to it, but after perseverance and endurance through a testing time, we come out the other side stronger, more mature, and often with a smile of joy. Ah, it’s bittersweet, I agree.
Whilst we’re familiar with the concept of physical training, we forget that our spiritual training is of higher priority. Heard of the saying, ‘Faith is the most important muscle to train’? Well, there’s nothing more true than that.
Just like physical training, each time you exercise faith, it becomes stronger. The tougher the challenge, the stronger the muscle. So, when things are going downhill in life, it’s probably the hardest time to train our faith muscle. It’s also during those times that we tend to turn our faith towards ourselves and what we can control, rather than turning our faith to the One who actually has the best plan. The testing of your faith is whether you remember to point the faith compass to the True North.
Have you ever met someone who, amidst her struggles, still manages to carry on with unwavering joy? She’d be crazy to be “happy” with her struggles, right? But you can’t fault her for the faith that she holds on to because of the promises that God has laid before her and her trust that no struggle is eternal. It’s only temporary and that the testing of her faith produces perseverance!
Let’s unpack this a little….. What is faith? Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) But of course we doubt the unknown. We’re human and we inherently desire knowledge. However, knowledge is never-ending and if that becomes the very fabric of our purpose and existence, we will die deprived and lacking. More importantly, deprived of the promise that God has so graciously offered to us - faith in Him to experience joy in life on earth, faith in Him to find joy even in the suffering, faith in that His plans that you cannot see just yet is better than yours.
Are there areas in your life right now where you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel? Or have you been stuck in a situation for so long that you no longer find joy in the circumstance? Don’t be disheartened, for God is a good good Father and He will not let your troubled times go to waste. Trust in His timing and spend some time in meditation and prayer as you surrender up your burdens to the Lord. Let Him show you how to find joy amidst your trials.