The New Testament teaches three ways to find joy during suffering.

  1. Suffering for others.
  2. Suffering as a mindset.
  3. Suffering for perfection.

Suffering for others…

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.  Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus suffered for you. God became human, died on the cross, and was raised on the third day – for you! To Jesus, it was worth it.

Last week someone told me, “I would take this disease from my son and put it on myself if I could.” That’s what parents do. We suffer for family. To alleviate the suffering of those we love, we would die.

God would too. In fact, He did. For everyone who has lived.

Suffering as a mindset…

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Philippians 4:7 ESV

“I’ve stopped praying because God doesn’t answer my prayers.” It’s frustrating when God doesn’t do what we ask – when pain is not alleviated or your best friend dies of cancer.

Has God stopped answering prayer?

Most of my prayers aren’t answered. I have faith and I ask specifically, but friends have died, resources are still needed, and questions have no answer. I keep praying.

There are three reasons for unanswered prayer:

  1. You ask amiss, so rejoice that you can learn to ask on target.
  2. You are engaged in spiritual warfare, so rejoice in God’s strength, and keep praying.
  3. You don’t know, so rejoice that someday you will understand.

Suffering for perfection…

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds… that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4 ESV

You fall, you stand, but the bruise on your knee is worth it. The promise of God is that suffering has meaning.

Without God, suffering loses purpose. Nothing happens without God’s consent and without His promise of ultimate resolution. The deeper the suffering, the deeper the joy.

I once asked an owner of a Victorian home why he didn’t sell his house. He was up on a ladder scraping and painting. Victorian homes have turrets, cantilevers, fish scale siding, complex fascia, and are mostly multi-colored – all of which must be scraped and painted.

The owner answered, “There is nothing more beautiful than a Victorian home.”

Summary…

  1. Suffering for others.
  2. Suffering as a mindset.
  3. Suffering for perfection.

Consider it all joy, for the joy set before you, rejoicing always for the painting and scaping – purpose, beauty, and victory for you and others.