Experiencing Joy in the Midst of Suffering

river at snowy day photo
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

 

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NET Bible)

One of my favorite things about my relationship with the Lord is the JOY that He gives me; the joy that I feel coursing through my veins; joy that is palpable and evident and real.  It is His joy and I am so thankful to Him that He shares it with me.

I appreciate it so much more when it is felt during times of difficulty, pain and suffering.  At times like this, His joy makes me want to rejoice! 😄

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NASB)

I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, in which Corrie eloquently describes the dual-existence of joy in the midst of suffering.  In this true story that is a “must-read,” you’ll learn that Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their elderly father were all arrested and sent to prison for hiding a group of Jewish people in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Soon after their father’s untimely death, Corrie and Betsie spent time in the notorious women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”  ― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Such a marvelous book! ❤️😁

The Ten Boom family could see the true light in the midst of this dark world.  And as their brothers and sisters, as Jesus followers, as believers in the gospel of grace, we also know the truth!

The truth has set us free, and yet we are stuck on this earth temporarily.  So, while we are here, let’s be patient; let’s hang in there; let’s not give up.

We all have pain, we all have suffering, and we all have difficulties to varying degrees.  But we also have hope.  Not only the hope of our future life in heaven, but the hope that is alive for us today:  the kingdom of God in our very hearts.  A hope with promise; that when we have persevered through tribulations, God will use the pain we have endured to reveal more of His love to us!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NASB)

Do you put God first?

If we’re honest, none of us puts God first.  I personally think all of us are so self-absorbed that we mainly think about ourselves.  If you don’t agree with me, just please think about it for a day.  Be brutally honest with yourself and see who you love with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your strength?  God or yourself?

As born-again believers, we hate this about ourselves.  We want to love God.  We know we should love God.  We want to make God #1 in our lives.  But we fail.

I love this quote by my pastor (who is mainly my pastor through his radio ministry; I do attend his church, but only once a month.)  Anyway, here’s the quote:

“Jesus does not want you to reserve time for Him; that’s not what He wants. What He wants is for you to take Him with you into your time.”

(Aaron Budjen; Radio Archive; “First Place in your Life.”)

If you are interested, here is the link to the 27-minute radio program.

When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?

Jesus Christ is the most important thing in this world.  He is “the way, the truth and the life.”  He not a way.  He is not a truth.  He is not a life.  He is it.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

As Aaron Budjen says, “He’s not the consolation prize.”  As believers in Him, as followers of Him, as His children . . . He truly is all that we need.

“‘…However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'” (Luke 18:8b)

There are so many things in this life that can distract us from the simple fact that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.  These things begin to take priority in our lives; these other things — as “good” as they may be — become more important to us than Jesus.

Those things are “a knowledge of good and evil.”  Remember that tree that mankind was forbidden to eat from?  When we live by a knowledge of good and evil, by doing what is right and not doing what is wrong, by adhering to rules,  by living according to commandments, by joining the right group, by being accepted by the right people . . . whatever ‘system of good and evil’ that governs your life, it will kill your faith in Jesus.

So He asks, “When I return, will I find anyone who trusts me?”  Anyone!?

Isn’t that scary!?  I certainly do not want to be in that category; I don’t want to be counted among those who have no faith.  I want to live my life in response to what He has shown me to be true, and what He is presently showing me . . . as He guides me into all truth.

Father, we want to be branches that bear fruit; branches that are well nourished by Your love, and that bear the fruit of the Spirit.

“‘Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.'” (John 15:2)

Father, prune us that we may bear more fruit; that we may know you better.

“Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

What little fox is in my life that is preventing me from trusting you today?

I want You to be the only WAY I live; the only TRUTH I believe in; the only LIFE I devote myself to.  Nothing else is as important as You.