Choosing Joy In The Midst Of Suffering
Fourteen years ago this month, I lost my younger sister to complications arriving from surgery; due to endometrial cancer. She was 39. Her death was the closest one (family wise) I had ever experienced other than my own miscarriages.
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it
My whole world reeled. Though I knew she had been born again, and though I knew she was safe in heaven; my heart was not at peace. I was not ready to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). It would take me awhile before I could say those words.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
Why? Looking back now I can see that I wasn’t too happy with God for taking someone from my family. Oh yeah, He was in control. I was fine with that as long as things like that didn’t happen to me or those close to me. Sound familiar? Pretty sad for a Christian, right? Do you realize how many Christians do believe that way? Thank goodness I don’t any more.
Do you know that many Christians believe that once you have been saved, your life is going to be a bed of roses? They think that as long as you do your part in living for God that life will be easy. It is almost the opposite. The new testament is full of verses telling us to be prepared for trials, tribulations, strife. But because we now have Jesus in our lives, we can choose to have joy and rejoice in our circumstances
…whom having not seen you love. Though now
you do not see Him,yet believing,
you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
1 Peter 1:8
The body of Christ should be used to having things go against them. Look at the early church, what they endured. I am not just talking about persecution and torture that happened. I am talking about losing a loved one, being put in prison. Having physical ailments, families turning their backs on you; having financial needs. Having people still point their fingers at you because of your past; even though you had changed. Threats and even facing death. Life was not simpler then.
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Yet the current body of Christ overall, does not look like those believers of the early church. What is the difference? The early church chose joy. They chose to rejoice amid their sufferings. Key word there, chose. They chose to trust God with their lives. That is why they had joy and could rejoice. They placed their lives in His hands to do with whatever He wanted; no matter what. Another key word is amid. They chose joy amid their sufferings. Not waiting for God to take it away from them, no. They chose to have joy while surrounded by their problems.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
In the bible, many times the words joy and rejoice are used interchangeably. Even the definitions are similar. Joy is more of a feeling; while rejoice is more of an action. When we look at verses with that in mind, we can see just how much the bible speaks on being joyful and rejoicing.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name
To find a way to be happy, to have joy; to be able to rejoice, no matter what happens; takes trust and faith. Faith in the Father, knowing that He can; and trust in Him knowing that He will ; when and however He wants.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
1 Chronicles 16:10
But are there limits to our trust and our faith? There shouldn’t be. No matter how big the problem, God is still bigger. Choosing to have joy changes your outlook on the situation.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
No matter what we are facing; no matter what has happened; we can still choose to have joy. Doing so changes our whole attitude towards what we are facing.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Until next time, God bless.