Suffering is joy. What!?
Pastor Mark Jeske
During his public ministry, Jesus often seized people’s attention with provocative, seemingly contradictory statements: “The last shall be first,” he said. “Blessed are those who weep.” James begins his letter in the same way by inviting believers to think of the painful trials and testing in their lives as positive experiences: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
How is a thought so outrageous even possible? Well, in two ways. First, experiencing suffering and trials matures us. Our faith grows up when we have to sweat, be frustrated, wait, and persevere, just as our muscles need regular workouts to grow strong. Unused muscles stay weak and atrophy. Everyone knows this saying: no pain, no gain. Our faith gets tougher when it feels resistance and overcomes.
Second, trouble can be good when it drives us to our knees to ask God for help. Our faith grows when we learn that God gives generously to all. It is arrogant to think that we are completely self-sufficient. As Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong, for his strength is made perfect in my weakness.” Suffering can be joy when we see God working great things around us.
Praying isn’t begging. It is accepting God’s invitation to be more of a partner in your life.
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