Everybody Suffers at One Time or Another
All of the true followers of God suffered in some way—eleven of the disciples were martyred, and the Apostle John spent his last days exiled on an island. The Apostle Paul had an unnamed thorn in the flesh. Suffering is one of the benchmarks in the life of a disciple.
If you think you haven’t experienced spiritual warfare, perhaps you mistook that as having a bad day, or a string of coincidences. Yet, in the life of a believer who is actively pursuing God, you will experience the weight spiritual warfare can cause.
I must admit I’m not very good at considering my suffering joy at all. My first reaction is to get angry, turn inward and recall all the times I felt God robbed me of the happy life I am owed. I mean, isn’t that what I deserve after all I’ve done to serve the Lord and accomplish His work?
This attitude is more dangerous than I can express.
When I think like this, not only am I not considering my situation as joy, but also distort my relationship with God, minimizing him as a genie in a bottle that, when prompted, should only give me good things and nothing that will causes me to be sad or uncomfortable.
We all will suffer at some time or another. Things like job loss, illness, or the death of a loved one will all subject us to suffering. But it’s not the fact that we suffer; it is our reaction to our suffering.
James says we should consider our suffering joy. Why? Because suffering forces us to lean completely on Christ, abiding in the Vine that gives our branches living water. When we surrender our control to Jesus, He provides and protects us in a way that is beyond our wildest imaginations. Surrendering allows us to yield our desires to make way for Jesus’ desires. Surrendering allows us to experience the inner freedom afforded to us through Jesus’ death on the cross.
When we consider that our suffering is producing perseverance in our lives, we understand that perseverance helps increase our faith. God does not waste pain. The difficulties we endure can seem unbearable at times, but the good God that allows it is using it for our transformation. Perseverance helps us to endure the next trial for longer, and longer, until we emulate the fruits of the Spirit that God desires for us in our lives.
We all suffer. But surrender is the key to turn our suffering into joy.
So, how do you do that, even when the suffering seems too hard to bear?
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