Post 19…April 2023…Finding joy in Suffering

How do I find joy in suffering? How can suffering in this world help me/us to experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ more fully? 

I don’t know about you, but suffering is not fun and I want to understand this as to suffering and I/us are to be okay with that.    So the place best we can go for answers is the world of God.  Not just looking at one statement, but actually searching the scripture for answers. Why?  Because God has given us answers to so much if we just search things out and don’t just go by one comment in the Bible.   Because If I just look at that one statement…I don’t think I want to go through that any time soon.  Do you?  So, there must be more to this statement of having joy in suffering.  Let’s find out. 

1 Peter 4:12–13, the Apostle Peter tells us, “Don’t be surprised by the fire ordeal that you’re going through as if something strange is happening to you,” and then he goes on to say, “but to rejoice because you share in the sufferings of Christ.”

There it is again…. shares in the sufferings of Christ.  Nope, don’t want to do it the way my mind at first is telling me to do.

The Bible says that suffering is normal.  No!  Don’t want to go there.   He first tells us, “Don’t be surprised as if something strange is happening to you,” because nothing strange is happening to you. We are called to expect this. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with your faith. And perhaps more importantly, there’s nothing wrong with God. So in this we might say no way and walk away from God, but to God is where we need to run and to hang onto Him.  Let us go deeper here.

Share in His suffering.  Well, we were not alive back then, and if we were how many people would want to even go through one iota of what our Lord went through?  Yet, Jesus did that for us.  He suffered for us.  Every hit to His body was for our benefit.  When the Bible says to rejoice when we go through things…how?  Pain is not our thing and we don’t want any of it.  How does one rejoice in pain?  Let’s see! Jesus tells us, oddly, to rejoice really because we share in the sufferings of Christ. Now, that’s not perhaps a way that we would normally think through this. We don’t normally think of joy connected with suffering. How is suffering going to bring joy? You see, Peter doesn’t talk about suffering in general. He talks about suffering with Jesus, sharing in Jesus’s suffering as a source of joy. Did you get that one?  Read it again!

See, the question is this,: How much do we really want to know Jesus? If you think about it, I dare say that what we think about is we really want to know the glory of Christ, that is to be justified in Christ, to be sanctified in Christ, to be adopted in Christ, to be glorified with Christ. We think of the great blessings that we have in Jesus, and that’s what we want to know. But when we think about the suffering of Jesus, that’s something that doesn’t really catch us as something terribly exciting.   Sure there is someone who might say they want to suffer with Jesus but we can’t go back and do that as we see what He went through so what is the Bible really talking about when it talks about us suffering with Christ?  It is talking to us about suffering (regarding Jesus) to know Jesus. 

You take away the Christlike pain and you take away the Christian’s joy because they will never really understand and know Jesus.   Our joy comes in knowing Jesus and knowing everything He did for us way back then, right now, and in the future as well.

Joy in our soul is really knowing the Lord. And that’s what the Apostle Peter here is really stressing. It’s not suffering that he wants us to know, but it’s a suffering of Christ that he wants us to know. It’s not just hardship and pain that he wants us to know. It is a hardship and pain of Christ that he wants us to know because only by knowing Jesus completely in his suffering and his glory, only then will we know the whole of Christ. If you don’t know what Jesus did for you how can you fully comprehend it?  Jesus took all our sins to the cross, but until you accept Jesus and what He did for you…you will never understand the cost of His pain.  We deserved what He willingly went to the cross and did for each of us.  Every stripe on his body He did that for you and for me.  Every drop of blood He shed…was for us.  Why would anyone ever want to reject Jesus? When one finds out what He did for us…why?  Why would you walk away from Him?    

One thing I do rejoice in is the fact we are going to go and be with the Lord when we take our last breath here, or when He returns for us, His bride, and takes us to be with Him. Oh the joy of knowing Jesus and knowing of the hope beyond the grave because we are His.

Romans: 5:3-5 NLT says:  3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

It is clear from this that Christians are expected to experience suffering. We don’t like that fact, but, nevertheless, it is a fact. In his letter to the Philippians, Chapter 1, Verse 29, the Apostle Paul puts it very plainly, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” (Philippians 1:29 RSV). So those who think that becoming a Christian will remove them from suffering have been seriously misled and self-deceived, for the Scriptures themselves teach that we are to expect to suffer. However, we also know we don’t like pain…it hurts…but whatever we must go through on this earth…it is but temporary and we will get to go and be with our Lord and we will never suffer again.

The Greek word for suffering, basically, is translated as “tribulation, something that causes distress.” It can range from minor annoyances that we go through every day, to major disasters that come sweeping down out of the blue and leave us stricken and smitten. I don’t know about you or your suffereings but in my old age I can tell you that I had many things that caused me stress, loss of loved ones, distractions, pain, hurt, and I don’t want to go through again.  We live in a fallen world and there is pain in this world and we are not immune to it.  Many of us have had loved ones walk out of our life, loss people we loved, been sick, and had excruciating pain at times…but we got through it.  However, I look around at what so many have had to go through fighting for freedom in America and elsewhere…and the suffering so many endured and my pains seem so small when I look at that.  However, the things I went through in my life were painful to me.  I see what the pain of war caused so man people out there and what they lost.  How can I ever compare the pain I feel or felt with the loss of what these great people endured to keep me free and my family free?

          We all have had suffering.  Maybe not as many as another, but if you are young…just wait.  Time will tell!  No matter how much fame and money you might have or will attain…you will have things in your life that you must go through.  I think of trials, tests, and tribulations…but I also think of the joy of making it through them and coming out with lessons learned and joy in making it through.

According to Romans 5, the Christian response to suffering is to rejoice: “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings.” Here is where many people pull back. They say, “I can’t buy that! Do you mean to say that God is telling me that when I am hurting and in pain, going through mental and physical torment, I am expected to be glad and happy and rejoice in that? What kind of a nut is this Paul, anyway? It’s not human, not natural!” There are many who feel this way.

Some people think we can’t go to God and whine and complain about what is going on in our life.  We are hurting and we want answers.  We just want our pain and suffering to end.  Some think that God will get mad at us if we tell Him we don’t like what is going on.  You do realize God is God and knows everything but yet He still wants a relationship with us and He still wants us to talk to Him about everything…and that includes our feelings as to what is going on in our life.  We want to whine and complain and yet Paul tells us to rejoice.  In what? 

Paul tell us to rejoice, but this is the common testimony of every writer of the New Testament. We are told by all to rejoice in our suffering. First Peter 4:12 says, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is coming upon you to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” It is not strange, it is normal. James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brethren when you fall into various tribulations.” There is that word again: joy, rejoicing. Even the Lord Jesus told us, in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when men persecute you for righteousness sake, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. [What does he say?]

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets before you,” (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV). Paul’s call to rejoice in suffering is found everywhere in Scripture. Let us take a closer look at what this really means. There are certain things it does not mean, though many people think it does:  Read that several times before you go on.

First, it is clear from Scripture that rejoicing in suffering is not simply endurance, endurance, patience, or indifference. It is not simply a ‘grin and bear it’ attitude, or ‘tough it out’ and see how much you can take, or ‘just hang in there until it’s over’ and ‘don’t let anything get you down,’ or ‘keep a stiff upper lip.’ Many people feel that if they do that, they are fulfilling the Word and “rejoicing in suffering.” But that is not it.

Suffering doesn’t just to Christians so then that can’t be what is being said.  There are non-Christians who can do that. It is not how much pain one can endure either.  There are people out there that go through horrid things in their bodies and minds that some of us could never do it.  We would just give up.   We are not expected to enjoy the pain.  Pain hurts!  You know it hurts.  There are some people who think “rejoicing in suffering” means that you are to enjoy your pain and hurt, that somehow Christians ought to be glad when terrible tragedy occurs and their hearts are hurting. That is not what Paul is saying. But there are people who feel that way — they are called masochists — they like to torture themselves. You have met people like that, who aren’t happy unless they’re miserable. If you take their misery away from them, they are really wretched, because it is their misery that gives them a sense of contentment. That is a twisted, distorted view of life. That is not what Paul is saying. Nor is he saying that we merely are to pretend that we are happy. Some think this passage is saying that when you are out in public, you should put on an artificial smile and act happy, when inside your heart is hurting like crazy. Now that is not it. I don’t have to pretend when I am suffering or in pain, but even in these situations I can still find peace in God.  I don’t need to pretend for I am a child of God Almighty and I can tell my Father in heaven everything…even that I hurt.  God doesn’t go around telling me to fake anything or be phony.

Someone said,  “I never would have chosen one of the trials that I’ve gone through, but I wouldn’t have missed any of them for the world!” Now that is saying it. There is an awareness that this suffering has done something of supreme value; therefore, you wouldn’t have missed it. But you wouldn’t have chosen it, either! That is rejoicing in suffering.  I did not make that statement but it is pretty darn true, at least in a lot of different things I have endured in my own lifetime. 

We don’t know the depth of what others are going through.  We might think we do, but we really don’t.  We might have even gone through a lot of things that are similar…but we all think differently, all have different opinions, and so on.  We both might be facing the same type of issue but our experiences could be quite different…even if we both are a Christian. 

Example: I had my oldest son get killed by a drunk driver.  It devastated me beyond words.  I absolutely hated comments that said things like, “Well, you have other kids, time will heal it, get on with your life and a hundred other comments that made me want to smack them silly.  No one replaces a child I don’t care how many you have.  Time has gone by and my heart, even though I know He is with Jesus…still breaks.  I miss my son.  I have always missed him and I know I will until I see him again.  Oh, you go on with your life because your life goes on.  However, the pain of his death has not gone away it just gets numbed a little so I can go on.  The person who killed him no punishment I could see, no jail time, and his life went on.  However, ten years to the day he was driving drunk again and hurt another person…and he, himself died.  What a waste in my mind.  Maybe he was sorry and maybe he wasn’t…only God knows.  I had forgiven him, but I still hurt inside my soul about what happened to my son.  Maybe the joy in my heart though is that my son didn’t have to suffer more pain and God let him go.  Knowing my son didn’t have to suffer more pain here on earth and got to go home to Jesus…that was a type of joy also. 

It is not that we ever want to suffer from any circumstance…but if we do have to we need to sit down and look at our situation.  Will/can anything good come from it now or in the future?  I have found that I can find peace even in the worst of circumstances and that is a joy in my soul even at the times I don’t understand it. 

“Knowing that suffering produces…” Suffering does something, and accomplishes something. It is productive. It is of value. We know it works, and that is what makes us rejoice.

Example:  I have given birth to 5 children.  Pain came with that.  Yet, that pain went away and joy came when I got to hole my precious kids in my arms and love them.  My children are the result of the pain I went through so that I could find joy in the suffering that brought that about.  My children, all of them, were miracles of God to me and even in difficult times over the years, even in some hardships and so on…I am thankful God blessed me with each of them.  That is joy also in suffering.

What about when you became a Christian?  Did you think everything would be peacy keen and you would never face another problem or have to suffer again?  If you thought that you did not read your Bible because God never said that when you became a Christian your problems stopped.  In fact, He said that in this world you would have tribulations.  We also get trials, tests, and suffering at times as well.

In this life we will face things we most likely would never choose to go through.  Some of us, in those times, can even panic and cry out…why?  Because trials, tests, and suffering are sure not fun. 

Maybe you were just like the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee when the storm was raging. They panicked. They came to the Lord, and shook him, and said, “Wake up! Don’t you know we’re about to perish?” (Matthew 8:25, Mark 4:30, Luke 8:24). And the Lord did as he does with some of us. He stood up and said, “Don’t panic.” Then he said to the storm, “Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39). And quiet came.  Oh, don’t we want to hear that as well when the storms of life come our way?  I know, I sure do.  Will panic make us feel better?  No, but knowing Jesus is in the midst and there to calm us…we can still find joy and peace to make it through whatever the situation is…no matter how bad it might be. 

Do you know that the storms of life each of us faces…we really can help another who is hurting and we can be their to help quiet their storms.  In ever storm, crisis, suffering we face in life another day comes our way.  We can whine and cry or try to find something in our suffering that we can learn.  No, it is not easy, no it doesn’t feel good while it is going on…but pray, seek God, ask God to show you the way through and when you get through something…ask Him to help you go on.  It might be different because of whatever circumstance you faced…but you can get through it, you can learn something, and you can be a beacon of light for someone else that might be facing something as well.

I was watching the storms across America (let alone around the world).  Oh my gosh…what people have had to face and endure.  Our hearts cry out to them.  Many have lost not only their loved one but everything they had in the process whether by flood, hurricane, tsunami, fridged weather, and so on.  My brain can’t imagine going through those things yet these people have.  Then of course, you might think that how can you complain when you see what another has gone through so much worse in your eyes.  We all have our own sufferings to go through while we walk through this planet until Jesus calls us home or comes for us.  We all face trials, tests, sufferings, and pain in some form.  My pain hurt  and hurts me just like yours does you.  We can’t really compare this because God knows what is happening, why, and what can we get out of it. 

I serve a loving, gracious God who loves me and died for me.  He knows my pain and He has walked with me through it.  He didn’t always take it away because I asked Him to.  Sometimes it ran the full course…but joy really does come in the morning…but maybe we go through several mornings before we see and feel that. God works behind the scenes, in the scene, and He never sleeps or slumbers.  Maybe you will even face the same kind of test or trial again.  Will it become easier the next time?  Will you find peace faster?  Will you get to your joy sooner?  Will you panic less and learn more faster? 

Do you get steadier faster as you face the trials of life?  Do you get more godly character to go on?  Here is something I found that might you as well to understand:

We have all seen the tire advertisements on television. A car is equipped with four tires and is put through horrendous tests — driven through desert sands, bogs, swamps, and marshes, driven over rough, hard, cobblestone roads, over roads with holes and chuck-holes, over boards studded with nails. The tire is twisted and pulled and stretched in every direction, and you are amazed at what that tire can take! After the test is over, they hold the tire up and it looks like it’s never been out of its wrapping! Then the ad comes: “Buy Sock’em Tires! They’re tested, proven!”

Whoa!  Isn’t that really what is happening to us as we go through life?  Of course it is.  We should read that over and over and let it slip right into our being and help us understand.  My husband is a veteran and he has gone through much especially in the last few years.  Some sure have gone through way more even…but in it all it built great character in him.  God helps make all of us better if we would but “get it”. 

        Many of us have had crushed, bent, overwhelmed in life over circumstances that we didn’t even cause…but we can make it through.  We can come out with better character, and be able to handle more…and be there to help another who is hurting as well.  It is easier to our problems in the hands of God each day and let Him help get us through no matter how long it might take to get through it. 

We find that reliability produces something. Suffering produces steadiness, steadiness produces reliability, and reliability produces hope. So now we are back to hope again. In Verse 2, Paul spoke of “rejoicing in hope,” the hope of sharing the glory of God, a hope for the future beyond death. But here is hope that we will share the glory of God, which is God’s character, right now. We have the hope that God is producing the image of Christ in us right now. That’s a great thing! And this hope is a certainty, not just a possibility. We are being changed. We see ourselves changing. We are becoming more like Jesus. We can see that we are more thoughtful, more compassionate, more loving. We are being mellowed. We are becoming like Christ — stronger, wiser, purer, more patient. To our amazement, a certainty grows in our hearts that God is doing his work just as he promised. He is transforming us into the image of his Son.

I don’t want to be proud in me…I want to be proud in Jesus, doing what Jesus wants me to do.  I want to tell others of the love of the Lord and stand with them to help them make it through  life as well.  Maybe I will mess that up…but I sure want to try. I have hope in the Lord, hope of heaven and eternity, and so each day I am blessed to live…I want to thank God and be a blessing to another…even if it might only be in words I can share. 

I am not ashamed of what God has gotten me through.  Some were my own fault and some were not…but God used my situation and I got through them.  Now, I can share the love of the Lord with  you and others…that is a real blessing.   I might not always say it just right, and my wording might suck, as they say, and I sure am not an English major as you can well see, but God has always had a way to take what I write and give it to the person who needs to hear/read/and see it.  So what if it doesn’t flow…God can still use it because I give God my heart and he can send the very person to read it that needs it.  That has always amazed me.  People have and will complain I write wrong, my tenses don’t match…but God says that my heart is good in what I do…and He deals with it. 

I don’t go back and usually read what I write.  If I did then I would seldom get done.  I don’t always say things like someone would want them stated, but again, God knows me and can use whatever I write to glorify Him.  I did want to state one more thing before I close here.  Did or do I always feel joy right away in the midst of pain and suffering?  NO!!!!!!!!!!   When we are hurting it is difficult to find that peace at that moment, but it comes.  Sometimes it just takes (for me) a bit longer.  I never want to lead someone astray or tell them something that, at the moment, they can feel either.  Joy does come.  We do make it through the difficult times.  Some times the scars of the pain show through in us…but so will the joy of the Lord in due time.  For the person who says that I don’t have a clue what you are going through or have been through I would 100% agree with you just as you have not gone through exactly what I have been through either.  We all face our own situations and we all feel differently about them when we go through them.  Your pain and suffering in this life is real and so is mine.  If someone asked me if I wanted to change with them and go through whatever they are or have I would say no.  Why?  Because I have my own set of issues, my own pains and sorrows to deal with and so do you.  I don’t know what life really has in store for you or anyone else, and I don’t know exactly what else I will face while walking this earth.  I don’t want you to  have to deal with my pains, and I don’t want yours either.  Each day has enough of its own pains to deal with. 

As I look around this world today and all the garbage being fed to everyone and them being deceived by the devil and his co-horts…I am glad I have Jesus on my side.  I no longer recognize America as a godly nation founded on God.  People are being deceived left and right and it crushes my soul and a lot of other people as well.  I look for the day Jesus returns and takes His bride home for I know there will never be pain again when that happens.  I don’t know what my future here on earth might look like but I know who walks it with me: Jesus! He has calmed so many storms in my life and I am blessed and thankful.  He wants that for both of us. 

So if this lesson has blessed you in some way…please share it.  I am not here to hurt anyone, offend anyone or whatever the pass words of the day are. I don’t believe in the woke crap going on, the racism crap going on, and the hatred and evil that is out there.  I believe in my Jesus whom one day went to a cross in my place and died for me so that I could live for all eternity with Him.  He wants that for you as well.   I am here to share the love of the Lord, to show you something maybe you are going through that might help you.  I hope it has in some way.  God bless you.