The book of James tells us to rejoice in suffering. I don’t know about you, but my first instinct when I’m face to face with struggle has nothing to do with joy. I’m angry, sad, frustrated, confused… but never happy it.
Suffering has a way of bringing out the worst in us. It causes us to question our lives and our purpose. We begin to question God and His intentions for our lives. But suffering is something that we all endure in this life. We live in a fallen world with imperfect people.
The bottom line is this: God has the power to transform us in the midst of our trials. He never causes the pain, but He can and will use it in our lives.
We are called to rejoice in suffering and recognize it as an opportunity for growth and victory.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NASB)
The first century Christians faced trials we can’t even imagine today. They faced persecution to the point of death from both the Roman rulers as well as the Jewish leaders. And their struggles didn’t end there. Paul speaks often of his suffering throughout his letters to the churches, yet through it all, he considered it a good thing to face struggles.
7 Reasons to Rejoice in Suffering:
- Suffering teaches us to rely on God’s strength rather than our own. (Psalm 73:26)
- As we persevere through struggles, we build endurance, strength, character, and hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
- Our struggles help us to cling to what really matters in this life – our hope in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8-9)
- Difficult circumstances give our endurance a “chance to grow” as we become more like Christ. (James 1:2-4)
- Our suffering in this life leads us to trust in the unseen glory waiting for us. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
- Our battles allow us to witness God’s faithfulness as He empowers us towards victory. (Psalm 34:19)
- Our suffering demonstrates God’s ability (and willingness) to transform our darkest hours into our greatest triumphs. (Romans 8:28)
Suffering is never fun. And even though Paul told us to rejoice in suffering, I’m sure he wasn’t leaping for joy at the idea of imprisonment, beatings, and persecution. But in spite of his suffering, he knew he was faced with a choice – be miserable in his suffering or consider it an opportunity for God to work. When dealing with struggles, we are faced with the same choice.
Suffering in this life can’t be avoided. We will all face heart-break and challenging circumstances. But our response to suffering doesn’t have to be misery and defeat.
We can choose joy. We can choose peace. And we can choose victory in Jesus’ name.
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.