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Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Freedom In Christ: Joy In The Midst Of Suffering

The title of today's post may seem like an oxymoron to many people. How is one to experience joy in the midst of suffering? It almost seems like an insult to suggest to someone to find joy in their trials and suffering... and to one who hasn't experienced the transforming power of Christ, it very well may be. In this post today I can hardly expect to tackle all of the challenges that come from suffering and how we will find the Joy of the Lord in them. So, I will continue on pursuing this topic again in future posts as the Lord leads.

mp3 audio file

Pure Joy is exactly what Jesus offers us when we find our freedom in Him (John 15:10-11; John 17:13; 1Pet 1:8; ). We are free to experience the joy of the Lord in the midst of suffering because we understand, as followers of Christ, we are to share in his sufferings (2Cor 1:5; Phil 3:10). Now this Biblical truth may be absolutely foreign to many Christians, because most American churches don't often teach about finding our joy in Christ in the midst of trials and suffering. We live in a culture that does everything in its power to avoid suffering and pain, therefore, as Christians we often believe God is there to assist in that goal. But joy in our trials is not a new truth by any means. We are told in the book of Acts that through many trials we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

So how do we find joy in the midst of suffering? I believe first and foremost we need to understand that God has a plan and purpose in all of our lives (Jer 29:11; Zech 8:15; ). Whether in success or failure, good times or bad, God is doing a work that will ultimately bring glory to Him and good for us. Secondly we are not always able to understand His ways of working (Job 42:1-3; Isa 55:8-9; Ecc 7:14). And third, we must come to the understand that God is good (Psa 100:5; Psa 118:1) and He works all things together for our good (Rom 8:28-29).

When we begin to understand that different forms of suffering in our life is inevitable, then we are able to draw near to God rather that blame Him. God does allow us to go through pain and suffering for our good and here are some reasons why. (I will use the word trials for simplicity sake)
  • Trials strengthen our faith (1Pet 1:6-7)
  • Trials are predetermined by God (1Thes 3:3; 1Pet 4:19)
  • Trials bring about perseverance (Rom 5:3)
  • Trials build endurance (Jam 1:3-4)
  • Trials defeat arrogance and bring humility (2Cor 12:7-10)
  • Trials cause us to rely on God (Psa 118:5)
  • Trials allow us to receive the crown of life (James 1:12)
When suffering and trials become a way for us to build us up in our relationship with Christ we are able to look at them differently. "So where is the joy?" you ask.

Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

When we believe the Word of God to be true, when we understand that God is working for our good, when we rely on Him for our source of strength, then we are confident that God will fill us with all joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.. Rom 15:13

Joy in the midst of suffering is not an immediate response in our life. It comes by being grounded in the Word and rooted in Jesus Christ. As you ponder and pray over today's post I encourage you to seek the Lord in your trials and ask Him to fill your heart with joy.

Until next week, I pray that you seek joy in Him as you face trials of many kinds.


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