Rejoicing In Suffering

Paul in prison

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.

Hab 3:17-19

For a while now, I feel like I’ve been plodding in mud, as I am so tired and I’m in constant pain.

How can I rejoice in suffering?

During my prayer times, I’m finding it really difficult to focus on God.

When I’m going through times like this, I want answers. I want to be fixed. I forget that there is purpose in my suffering. Sometimes there is no answer, no reason, and no easy fix.

I have a choice:

I can keep struggling and resisting my circumstances, looking for answers and feeling stressed and fed up, or…..

I can choose to stop trying to control my life, instead, surrendering to Jesus and trusting that he is in control.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:6-10

The practice of mindfulness has become very popular. I have practised it in the past, but it involves focusing on myself: on the pain and sensations in my body, on my thoughts, or on my feelings.

I would prefer to focus on Jesus!

Mindfulness is a Westernised Buddhist meditation, and I want no part in Buddhism.

However, I did find that being mindful of the pain often resulted in the pain significantly reducing. I’m sure this is because, instead of fighting against it, I relaxed into it, allowing the pain to “be” – which in turn allowed my muscles to relax.

Is there a way to be mindful of my pain, with and in Jesus, without compromising?

Acceptance and Surrender

Accepting my circumstances, my pain, tiredness and suffering, is very like mindfulness, as it involves relaxing instead of struggling – but it’s better than mindfulness, as it involves surrendering to someone who cares about me, who loves me very much, and who created me!

God knows me through and through!

He knows the pain in my body, the tension and exhaustion, for he made me.

Jesus has suffered all that I suffer….

…..and more, and my suffering gives me access to his suffering.

My Suffering Has Purpose

Nothing happens to me unless God allows it, which means my suffering has purpose, and isn’t in vain.

  • Through suffering, I learn to rely on God for everything I need.
  • Through suffering, I grow to be more like Jesus.
  • Through suffering, I learn to let go of this world, and to long for the next.
  • Through suffering, I am being made perfect.
  • Through suffering, I will know God more intimately.
  • If I suffer with Jesus, I will also reign with him!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 8:35-39

As I submit and surrender to Jesus, being willing to follow him no matter what, then I can have peace, and I will have joy!

Suffering is part of God’s plan for our redemption…..

for without Jesus terrible suffering and death, there would have been no victory over sin and death, no resurrection, and no way to be saved.

Therefore, it would profit me nothing to be mindful of myself.

I need to be mindful of Jesus, of his presence with and in me.

I need to be mindful that there is purpose in this suffering, for through it God is producing fruit.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Rom 5:3-5

With God’s strength…..

I won’t shrink away from the pain, but will, instead, let it be there, for I can’t control it, but God can.

With God’s strength…..

I will rejoice in my suffering, trusting his promises to me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1Peter 1:3-7

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