Seasons of Suffering, Seasons of Joy (James 5:13)
By: Amanda Idleman
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. - James 5:13
Life is filled with highs and lows. Navigating the ups and downs of life can be a challenge. Thankfully the Bible gives us some insight on how to approach our hardships and our joy. God doesn’t leave us on our own in either season. In our lives, there is no struggle that He isn’t present for or celebration He doesn’t know about.
What does God say about the hard times? The enemy of our souls wants to speak the lie of aloneness in our ears when things start to feel like more than we can handle. We become paralyzed in the belief that no one is there to support us, thoughts of guilt may stop us from being open about our struggles, and the idea that no one can understand what we are going through can keep us stuck alone.
Without the support of others or a strong grasp on God’s love for you in those hard moments, hopelessness can begin to set in like an ugly fast spreading disease. The Bible tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). This is precisely why the Bible instructs us to turn to God in prayer when we suffer.
When we begin to connect with God through prayer and study of his Word, hope can return to our hearts! We are reminded that we are loved and never alone. God gives us the strength we need to share our stories with others that can support us, further breaking the chains of hopelessness.
When you are in a season of suffering, bring it all to Jesus... bring all the frustration, desperation, loneliness, or anger and lay them at the feet of Jesus. God is not repelled by honesty. He already knows the state of our lives and hearts. You will not offend God with your sin or doubt. He pleads with us saying please come to me first. He loves you so much that He died to take away your sin and pain.
In seasons of joy, sing praises to your God! We can get so caught up in our own pleasures that we take the good for granted and only turn to God in hardship. God invites us back to be in his presence in both our seasons of joy and seasons of suffering. When prayers are answered, when a milestone is achieved, when the sunset takes your breath away, or your kids knock it out of the park, take a moment to give God the glory.
It’s our ability to see God in the joy-filled seasons that helps prepare us for the times of suffering. If we don’t have the ability to notice God’s grace, provision, and kindness when it is right in front of our faces, how will we recognize God at work when life is heavy? We need that ledger available in our minds of all the ways God has already come through for us to lean on when doubt, worry, or when suffering enters our lives.
What season are you in now? Are you barely keeping it together or are you loving every minute of life? Either way, God is there, and He wants you to look to Him in each and every season of life brings your way. Acts 17:28 says it like this “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.” He is our source of life, but even more than that, God wants to do life with you. Remember to offer prayer and praise in both your joy and suffering.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
Do you love podcasts? In The Bible Never Said That, we unpack some of the most popular "spiritual statements" that have made their way into popular culture and the church, even though they are not theologically sound. Together, we'll hold them up to the Bible to see what God's Word really has to say to us.