So the Bible says we’re to rejoice in our sufferings. In my experience, and hopefully to your relief, I don’t think it’s something that we do in our own strength.
I don’t think the woman with the issue of blood was rejoicing, nor the widow at Nain or the leper who approached Jesus. But:
We also glory rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I really struggled with this verse during the first few years of illness. It was so difficult to see anything good coming out of the situation I was in. If I’m honest, I didn’t want to rejoice in my sufferings, I didn’t feel like being ‘happy’.
REJOICE IN SUFFERINGS
Who cares about becoming more patient or developing character! I used to hate the word perseverance as it implied a journey. I’d already been ill for so many years, the journey seemed so unending.
There were definitely days and sometimes weeks where I would be all negative, wishing I could just curl up in a ball and die, thinking that God had forgotten me.
The thought I had to rejoice in my sufferings was unthinkable. I just couldn’t do it.
I wonder if you can relate to this? Is your situation overwhelming you so much that you’re not feeling much joy? I just want you to know, that this is ok, you’re not alone.
GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS
But there were times when, I’m sure thanks to the spirit of God and the prayer of those around me, I was full of hope.
I came to realise that as long as there were hopeful days, and as long as they eventually outnumber the bad, then this was all that was needed.
I’m still moving forward so making progress.
I say this because in church life, there is a certain expectation to be happy all the time despite what’s going on in life.
I even had someone tell me ‘the Bible says you’ve got to be happy’. It was like a knife wound to hear. I felt so terrible, my life had been ripped apart.
There can be a mindset telling us we need to ‘be strong, to have a right attitude, to rise above circumstances.’
I personally believe this is unrealistic and unfair for those of us who live with chronic painful conditions.
In my opinion, these things are only right, when they are 100% genuine. When they match what is really going on in a person’s heart.
Otherwise, we’re conforming to what our external world wants and expects, or we’re wanting to appear a certain way in public.
Both of these can hinder healing.
My church recently did a series on ‘Grit’. But there is a big difference between appearing as though you have grit, and genuinely having it.
So what causes us to rejoice in our suffering when it feels so unnatural?
HOW CAN WE REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS?
The only answer I can give, is
- if Jesus can love us whilst we were sinners, how much more does he love us now we’re his children? This gives me confidence of my deliverance.
- When I feel the presence of Jesus, I do feel that safe, warm and fuzzy feeling and as I write this I notice a smile on my face. Yes, He does give me joy.
- If he can save us when we’re sinners, how much more will he see us through our difficulties now we’re his children? This is the security we have in Him. This does create a sense of joy.
- I rejoice, knowing that I’m not going through this alone. That I have a friend, that sticks closer than a brother and that He restores.
THE SPOILS OF WAR
The Bible says our troubles are momentary and in the suffering God is doing a mighty work in you. Of course this doesn’t mean that God caused the suffering, it just means that He will use it to your advantage.
There are always spoils of war; blessings that will only be available to you because you’ve persevered against the enemy. Can you imagine them? If you can, then it’ll support you in your ability to rejoice in your suffering.
As you journey through the difficulty, you strengthen the gift of patience. You focus on the Word and draw close to the Lord.
In my opinion, if you’re still planted with your church, still spending time with the Lord each day and still seeking to hear His voice, then you are winning. See IS THE MEANING OF BETHESDA THE KEY TO YOUR BREAKTHROUGH?
As far as I’m concerned, this is what it means to rejoice in sufferings.
I heard it said once, that if you haven’t spent time with God in a day, then you’ve wasted the day! This is great to know on those days when you’ve not well enough to get out of bed.
AND IT CAME TO PASS
The bible uses the phrase ‘and it came to pass…’ a lot. That’s because the Holy Spirit likes to remind us that our situation, if negative, will turn around. It’s temporary and won’t go on forever.
Anything that is temporary is easier to endure. If you think you’re going to be suffering for the rest of your life, it’s a very painful depressing place to be. This is why we can never take off our helmet of the hope of salvation.
I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope Hosea 2:15
Your sickness today is a season. It may be a long and painful season, but seasons are meant to pass. God has promised to turn your valley of trouble into a gateway of hope.
You have to go through Winter before you get to Spring. If you’ve been unwell for many years, perhaps the post called HOW TO BELIEVE GOD’S PROMISES (EVEN AFTER YEARS) might help.
The Holy Spirit is encouraging us to thank God for all he is doing in this season. He will grace you, for as long as you need and give you hope.
During this time, as the above verse states, your character is being moulded. You have the opportunity to strengthen the fruit of patience.
THE BEAUTIFUL PEARL
Remember godly patience is active; you’re actively believing God for His healing promise to come to pass. You’re growing in faith and spiritual maturity, becoming stronger and more Christ-like.
One day you’ll look back at your life and see how far you’ve come.
I really love the analogy of the creation of the pearl. A grain of sand gets trapped in the oyster and becomes an irritant. It’s painful and uncomfortable for the oyster but eventually that grain of sand has turned into a beautiful and expensive pearl.
This is what is happening to us when we go through a season of suffering. When I look back at how I was prior to the onset of illness. All the irritants within me rose to the surface.
The anger, resentment, bitterness, pity. One by one I was set free from this. Low self esteem, inferiority, no confidence, self hatred, guilt, shame…..the list seems to go on and on.
The beautiful thing is, that Jesus did it for me. He didn’t once point the finger at all my ‘flaws’ or ‘hindrances’ and tell me ‘to go and deal with them’.
Whilst I can’t profess to have it all together, the depth of healing the Holy Spirit did within me brought me to a place of being, a pearl, I never would have reached without the discomfort.
THE ABUNDANCE OF HOPE
In the Bible, faith, patience and hope seem to depend on each other. If you remember Abraham ‘in hope believed’ for over 20 years! In fact, he ‘pitched his tent in the land of hope’. And this is our invitation, for as long as it takes before the healing promise manifests in our bodies.
Remember a pearl is being formed so don’t give up! Think of the vision you’ll have from the mountaintop! Whoop! Whoop!
God is turning you into the person he wants and needs you to be for whatever he has in store for you. He needs to trust you in the valley before he can trust you on the mountaintop.
(This doesn’t mean that He is allowing the illness until you are perfected somehow, I am not saying this) but I am saying that this happens to be a by-product of any difficult journey.
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you again with an abundance of hope for your situation.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Isn’t it amazing that whilst you’re going through your trial the Holy Spirit will fill you with joy and peace?! Two qualities unlikely to be seen in the life of an unbeliever.
YOU ARE AMAZING. GOD LOVES YOU AND BELIEVES IN YOU. YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Have a great rest of the day
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