Friday, February 25, 2011

Pure Joy in Suffering

I know the title of this post seems strange. It is something the bible tells us to have; Pure joy in suffering. For some reason this same verse has come across my eyes multiple times this week, so I think God is trying to tell me something.

James 1:2-4 says;
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I need to share it, I need to learn from it, and I need to live it. So I am posting it here on this blog. Maybe it will give you a different point of view about what you are dealing with in your life right now. Sometimes we need to remember that our sufferings can be huge things, or even the common daily difficulties we deal with. They can be physical sufferings, mental sufferings, or sufferings of the heart.

When you look closely at the verse above, it tells us to have the outlook on our sufferings as a test of our faith. Wow. To think of how I handle some of my "simple" daily sufferings as a test of my faith makes me cringe. I often grumble through so many activities, instead of finding the joy.

If I think of these sufferings as a test of my faith though, and ask for God's help, His strength, His hands to uphold me, then my outlook changes. Part of what makes the sufferings we have so difficult is that we feel alone in our suffering. I have to remind myself constantly that I am not alone. God is with me. He wants me to ask for help, He wants me to rely on Him, and He wants me to seek answers in His word. He wants to fill that hole in my heart that nothing else will fill. Only then can my faith grow. Only then can I "be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Another great verse that I have often tried to remember is Romans 5: 3-5.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

We are building our character, developing perseverance and hope, and growing our faith while we suffer. See, suffering can make us stronger! One of my dear friends told me to look every day for things that are going right and see them as a praise. Then take a moment to say a "praise prayer" to God, thanking Him for whatever that may be. Sometimes we have those days where our praise prayer can only be to thank Him for the air we breathe, and sometimes we can find so many things to praise Him for that it is hard to find the time to praise Him.

I challenge you to write down 5 things each day that you are thankful for. It just might change your outlook. I have started doing this in a book of my Mom's that she had for just this purpose. She had filled out a few of the pages, and I am adding to it. It really makes your day feel differently when you sit down and realize that you had more to be thankful for that day than you realized you did.