Counting it All Joy – By Hannah Loviisa
Tears. I flittered around a bit while considering what I should write about until one topic brought tears to my eyes. And that topic is tears. We look all around us and observe and experience sorrow. Why do we have trials when we pray for blessings? Is God is looking out for our best interests? When will all this suffering end?
We all ask these questions when our lives seem to be covered with shadows. We all look for answers to our hearts’ cries. We don’t always have them. God doesn’t reveal all the answers to us. But there are some truths he does reveal.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
Suffering will come to the Christ-follower. Christians don’t get to escape the consequences of the fall. From the moment we enter the world we are firmly in its grip.
Suffering is purposeful
“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Rom 5:3b-4
If suffering isn’t meaningless, then what is its purpose? We tend to focus on ourselves, so let’s do that. How does suffering benefit me?
Suffering strengthens our faith. I find that the times where we grow most spiritually are the times when we suffer most. Perhaps it is because our faith is being tested.
Suffering also grows our relationship with God.
“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Philippians 3:10
When I look back at times in my life when I have experienced suffering, I can see how it has enhanced my relationship with God. Because during those times I most strongly and actively sought a relationship with Him, especially through my prayer life. Do we not pray most when we are the most desperate? When things go wrong, the worldly things seem to fade away and we look to our Savior for our comfort in this life. How much greater would our relationship be with our Father if we always reached out to Him with that same longing and desire?
Suffering also encourages other Christians. If we have experienced suffering, we can be of better encouragement to other Christians to be faithful throughout their own trials. We can be a witness to the world when they see that we suffer differently. We suffer with hope. That suffering reminds us that this world is not our home. Trust in your Creator because He is faithful to bring the good work He has begun in you to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Christian suffering can glorify God
“…you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6b-7
Suffering wasn’t what God intended for us but it is part of His plan for our life, and His plan is not meaningless. We were created for a purpose, and that purpose was to glorify God. So what about in the midst of our suffering?
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” 1 Peter 4:16
This is how we glorify God through trials; we show that He is more precious to us than anything in this world, even our own lives. And that means that while all else may get taken from us, we still rejoice because our greatest treasure, our source of joy, our glorious Author and Finisher of our salvation, will never forsake us.
The Good News
Jesus has conquered death. He suffered what we could not. He took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross in our place and rose again victorious. Christ was the ultimate Sacrifice, the triumphant Sufferer, so that through Him we can overcome death. And the suffering will end when Jesus comes back.
Until then, we fight the good fight! We press on. The Christian can endure anything because Christ has accomplished everything. (Philippians 4:13) We have a unique opportunity to glorify God in the midst of our pain, and look forward to the day where we may, without the limitations of sin, enjoy Him forever in the place He has prepared for us.
So finally, rejoice because JESUS is ENOUGH!
Previously published on Refresh! Women’s Leadership Newsletter from Partners International.