How To Be Joyful When You Are Really Suffering
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
Some time ago I was emotionally overwhelmed by several major trials – a family member’s suicide, a problem child, a parent’s Alzheimer’s disease, major financial disappointments and my wife’s sister’s cancer and death.
Before all that, my life had seemed virtually “problem free” and I assumed it would continue that way. Then the intense pain came, made worse by my mistaken notion that God had somehow reneged on His promises.
But I was greatly mistaken. The Bible says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (1 Peter 4:12 KJV)
This “bad news” verse encouraged me. It helped me break through the “betrayal barrier” which is the feeling that God promises a rose garden, but gives only thorns.
Fortunately I learned a very important lesson during this difficult time.
Here are 3 ways you can be joyful when suffering:
01. Expect Difficulties
Maybe we don’t actually say it, but we may think: “God and I are really close and I am doing His special work. Therefore, things are bound to go well and I expect no difficulties in life.”
We can thank the Apostle Peter for his very important warning: The fact that bad things do happen to good Christians.
Again scripture says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (1 Peter 4:12 KJV)
Eventually I realized that God never promised a problem free life, and that all the twelve original Apostles, except John, died horrific martyr’s deaths and that our Savior Himself suffered incomprehensibly.
02. Rejoice Despite Trials
Am I hopeful, encouraged, trusting, joyful? Yes. But not because I expect to have no suffering.
I rejoice in spite of trials, as instructed in verse 13, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13 KJV)
Scripture is clear, “In everything give thanks” or “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Life is always a mixture of difficulties and blessings. The question is, “What will I choose to focus on?”
I choose to obey God and focus on the blessings.
(You might also want to check out my article “5 Simple Steps to Conquer Complaining and Find Happiness”)
03. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
A great key to being joyful when suffering is to look ahead. Verse 13 points us toward this truth: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13 KJV)
This same theme is repeated elsewhere: “I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed. All of us who are mature ought to think the same way about these matters.” (Philippians 3:14-15a VOICE)
C. S. Lewis said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Wow! And amen!