What the Bible Says About Finding Joy In Suffering
Why suffering? What is its purpose? What impact does it have on our lives? How are we to endure it? These are questions that many of us may be pondering during these uncertain times we are living in. They are questions that should be considered and sought out in God’s Word. Let’s take a few minutes and see what the bible says about finding joy in suffering.
The Bible makes one thing clear: we can, and should, endure suffering joyfully.
Wait… what? Doesn’t that go against everything in our nature? Suffer joyfully?
The Difference Between Joy and Happiness
There is a woman in my Bible study group who just lost her husband. They spent many decades of their lives together. Her feelings of sadness and grief are overwhelming at times. She has had multiple, tearful conversations with me and the other ladies in the group. Yet, at the same time, she has maintained an unspeakable joy in the Lord through the midst of all of it. I admire her so much.
Happiness is a feeling based on uncontrollable circumstances. Joy is a chosen attitude, despite our feelings and circumstances.
As Christians, happiness is not guaranteed. However, as Christians, we always have access to joy. Our joy is found in the presence and knowledge of our heavenly Father and the promises He has given us.
What Does God Say About Suffering?
Here are a few principles and verses that help us to see the purpose of suffering.
In This World There Will Be Suffering
Jesus teaches that we will experience suffering in this world. If the world hated him, it will also hate those to choose to follow His ways.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. ~ John 15:18-19 NASB
We Suffer Because Jesus Suffered
Our ultimate goal is to be like Jesus. We read in Hebrews that Jesus Himself was perfected through suffering. As His followers, we must expect to experience sufferings because He experienced them.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the originator of their salvation through sufferings. – Hebrews 2:10 NASB
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ~ Romans 8:16-18 NASB
Bible Verses About Joy In the Midst of Suffering
Suffering as a Christian is guaranteed. However, scripture also tells us that there are benefits to our suffering for Christ. I love reading verses about how the joy of the Lord is my strength. God is a good and loving Father and has given us hope and encouragement in his word about joy in the midst of trials. Here are a few scriptures that tell us why we can have joy in the midst of sorrow and suffering.
Suffering is Evidence that God is Purifying Us
The following verses show us that God uses our suffering to make us more holy. Suffering helps to bring our sanctification process to completion
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 1:6-9
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 1:2-3
Suffering is Evidence of Eternal Life
The fact that we suffer in this world proves that we do not belong to it. As we endure sufferings with joy, patience, and hope in God, it’s a sign to others of our salvation and eternal inheritance.
in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. ~Philippians 1:28
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great. ~ Matthew 5:10-12
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A Story of Joy in Suffering in the Bible
I firmly believe that when we choose joy in the midst of sorrow we are offering a sacrifice of worship to the Lord. Worship is simply bowing down our own will for the sake of God’s will.
One of my favorite stories of worship in the Bible is Job. Job was blessed with many possessions and a large household.
In a single day, he lost everything. This was his response…
Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Despite all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God. – Job 1:20-22 NASB
Despite his sorrow, he laid down his will and accepted God’s.
What Does God Say About Dealing With Pain?
As we walk through the trials and suffering of this life, there are some principles that God gives us in His Word that we can cling to. Promises that give us the strength to endure sufferings and sorrow.
He Will Never Abandon Us
This is one of the Lord’s greatest promises and gifts to us. He promises that He will be with us as we walk through hard times.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Deut. 31:8
At my first defense, no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. ~ 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Suffering Is Only Temporary
The trials we face today are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in the future! We have eternity in heaven to look forward to. We can maintain our joy in trials because the Bible says that they are only temporary.
even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials… ~ 1 Peter 1:6
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ~Revelation 21:4
Bible Study About Joy in Suffering
Philippians is a book about joy. However, the author who wrote this epistle did so from prison. Paul was a man acquainted with suffering, and yet, he discovered how to remain joyful and content in the midst of it. Get this study guide of the book of Philippians to learn more about what the bible says about finding joy in suffering.