Finding Joy in Suffering
When you are suffering, you may not be considering that joy is possible for you. But the Bible tells us that God is with us in our darkest times, guiding and leading us toward the joy we can have no matter our circumstances. A caring Christian counselor can help you find that joy.
Is Joy in Suffering Possible?
We know that when you are truly suffering, it’s hard to believe that joy is possible unless the suffering stops. However, Psalm 23 is a picture of joy even within suffering. You can have joy if you have faith in God.Psalm 23 talks about walking through dark valleys, even valleys where the shadow of death is present. You may be in a valley like that. But even in that valley, God is walking beside you, protecting you, and leading you like a loving Shepherd. Your cup can overflow with joy even in the presence of your enemies or the sources of your deepest suffering.
Only with God can you find joy in suffering. God’s unchanging character can anchor you in the darkest valleys. As you draw close to him in your time of suffering, you can choose joy within your pain and even point others to God through your example.
Why Seek Joy in Suffering?
Suffering can feel senseless, especially if you don’t know why it is happening to you. Yet you don’t need to suffer without cause. By choosing the right mindset, you can rise above your suffering and focus on the joy that’s possible for you in Christ Jesus.
Seeking joy in suffering gives you purpose. By contrast, letting suffering simply sweep over you in waves can be disheartening. But if you are looking for signs of joy even while you suffer, your purpose is affirmed, and you can have a measure of hope.
Another reason to seek joy in suffering is to be like Jesus. Though Jesus was holy and mighty, he endured much suffering when he humbled himself to become human. He endured that suffering so we could be with him. Our suffering matters to God, and it helps us become more like Jesus as we endure.
You may not be able to see this now, but God may use your current time of suffering to encourage other people in the future. The Bible tells us that we can comfort those who are suffering in the same way we are (2 Cor. 1:3-7). If you choose joy now, you’ll be able to further encourage and comfort those walking the same difficult path you are walking now.
Verses to Help You Choose Joy
Scripture can serve as an anchor for you on your most challenging days. Verses like these will strengthen you and help you choose joy while you are suffering.
For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19
God commends those who suffer for doing what is right, even when the cause of suffering is unfair. This is a mark of character and endurance you can display when you trust God to bring good things out of your hard time. Jesus will help you bear up under your pain.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1b-2
What should your focus be when you are suffering? This passage tells us to focus on Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of faith. As you study Jesus’ example, you can run your race with greater perseverance. He looked forward to the joy that lay beyond his suffering, and you can look forward to the joy that awaits you with Christ once your suffering is over.
Jesus always said yes to his Father’s requests, even when that meant he would suffer. He didn’t need to learn obedience because he was disobedient (like we are), because he was holy. But if even Jesus, the Son of God, needed to learn obedience through suffering, how much more do we sinful people need to learn obedience through our suffering. Again, Jesus obeyed the Father because he knew joy was promised to him. We can have the same attitude.
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. – Hebrews 5:8
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:5b
This verse affirms that suffering is part of the human experience. Yes, you may have many nights when your difficulties cause great pain. Weeping is one way to release some of the pain you are experiencing. This verse also affirms the joy God promises as sure as the morning comes after each night. Your joy is secure in the Lord.
Jesus was speaking to his disciples the night before his crucifixion in this passage. He knew his disciples would have great sorrow upon his death. But he promised joy that would overshadow the sadness, just like the joy a woman experiences after childbirth. You can choose to see your suffering in the same way, trusting that God has great joy in store for you.
It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So, you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. – John 16:21-22
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – Romans 5:3-4
Endurance is a part of godly character and spiritual maturity. You can’t develop endurance without suffering. Endurance also affirms the hope you have in salvation and your relationship with God. As you endure suffering while choosing joy, God will develop deeper character in you.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. – 1 Peter 4:12-13
Many people mistakenly believe that the Christian life is free from suffering. But no seasoned Christian will tell you that’s true. Trials are a part of everyone’s experience in this fallen world. Though we experience trials, we can still choose joy because we are being made more like Jesus every day. We also have the everlasting joy of heaven promised to us, and we can look toward it with great hope.
When You Need Help in Suffering
Suffering is difficult, even for people of faith. You may not be able to handle suffering on your own. Whether your suffering is mental, emotional, physical, relational, or spiritual, you can receive compassionate care from a Christian counselor.
Your counselor will listen to your story and affirm your hurts. You will learn how to handle your situation with greater confidence and strength, based on the principles in God’s Word. Your counselor will uplift you in prayer and coach you on how to face problems from new angles.
A compassionate Christian counselor will help you no matter what kind of suffering you are facing today. We can help you choose joy despite your season of suffering. Give us a call today to set up the first meeting with us.
“Rotunda”, Courtesy of Delfi de la Rua, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Praying Man”, Courtesy of Sam Rios, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cross”, Courtesy of Alicia Quan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Joy”, Courtesy of Preslie Hirsch, Unsplash.com, CC0 License