Can We Rejoice in Our Suffering?

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    Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Rom 5:3-5

    {I know there are some very difficult things happening in the Church in Turkey right now. I humbly and respectfully submit this devotional to you in the hopes that God’s Word will be a source of comfort and strength during this time.}

    Suffering can occur in a Christian’s life for several reasons. You may suffer as a result of your own sin, or perhaps as an unfortunate consequence of someone else’s sin. Perhaps, like Job in the Old Testament, God has allowed you to suffer for some unknown divine purpose. Or maybe it is an outright spiritual attack. Whatever the cause, suffering is never fun and is something most of us just want God to take away from us as quickly as possible.

    Let’s look at God’s perspective on suffering in the above verses. God will allow suffering in a Believer’s life in order to develop him or her spiritually. His goal is not that we will try to get out of our situation as quickly as possible, but that through patient endurance, He will use our unpleasant circumstances to produce perseverance, Godly character, and ultimately hope. He wants to draw us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Hope (trusting in God) will not disappoint us. God has already proven how deeply He loves us – He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us.

    So far this may all seem fairly logical. But, for me at least, now comes the difficult part – “we also rejoice in our sufferings”. Knowing that suffering will produce perseverance, character and hope is one thing, but rejoicing in our suffering seems impossible most of the time. (I can tell you that personally, my family is going through at least three major trials right now, and rejoicing in them is the furthest thing from my mind!). But Paul was able to look past the immediate pain and difficulty of his circumstances and see the ultimate good God was going to bring out of them, for Paul’s own good and for God’s ultimate glory. Remember that Paul endured some extreme hardships in his lifetime (see 2 Cor. 11:16-33). He literally faced death again and again. If he was able to look death in the face and rejoice, maybe we can see through the immediate pain of our trials to the ultimate glory God will receive through our patient obedience.

    May God give you the grace to give it a try. Trust Him completely. May Christ be glorified through our suffering.

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