I know in this world there is pain. There is heartache and heartbreak, loss and grief, sorrow and mourning. I know some days it feels like you are suffocating from despair and loneliness. But my dears, you are not alone. You have not been abandoned in your pain. And as contradictory as it sounds, there is joy to be found in the hurt.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:12 NLT
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
You may be thinking, “How can I be joyous when I am in pain? When I am weary from the trials of life? When I am broken from the fastballs of uncertainty?”
About five years ago I met a woman who served alongside her husband in northern Africa doing missions to reach Muslims. She shared the testimony of their work, and how one morning her husband was shot by al-Qaeda extremists. She and her four children had to flee the country, left in shock and trying to mourn, all the while moving back to the US. Her story is so powerful, so emotional, but with the fingerprints of God clearly on display throughout it all. In her book she shares the story of what led them to go, their ministry there, and the aftermath of that unexpected day. Yet, despite her fear and her denial, she sought the LORD and He constantly revealed His love, compassion, and the fact that He would continue to water the seeds she and her husband faithfully sowed.
“Pain and peace were in harmony. I will never understand how suffering and joy can coexist beautifully.” Emily Foreman, We Died Before We Came Here
I was amazed at her composure the times I’ve chatted with her. I cannot imagine her pain. She lost her best friend and husband, her kids lost their father, in a ruthless and senseless manner. Yet, by the grace of God, she found His joy in her suffering. She knew that in her pain, in this tragic turn of events, that the glory of God was being revealed to a lost people and a broken world. She knew that her husband was now standing before God, made complete and celebrating the eternal life he taught about on earth.
Happiness is temporary and based on circumstances. Joy is eternal and based in Christ.
Emily’s circumstances cried out loud. They screamed pain and heartache, grief and frustration. But by remaining steadfast in His truth, she experienced a joy and comfort that words cannot describe.
“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18 ESV
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11 NLT
We may never have a spouse who dies at the hands of a terrorist or extremist. We may never experience the same things she did or the same things as each other. We have our own sorrows. Our own pain and frustrations. Our own trials and tribulations. They aren’t any less than someone else’s hurt, just different. Jesus Christ understands loss and grief. He understands emotional hurt and circumstantial pain. But He knows that only in Him can we find our joy. Only in Him can we find hope, strength, boldness, comfort, and life.
“Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:11-12 NIV
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” Romans 5:2-3 NLT
We were never guaranteed easy. If anything, we have been guaranteed hardships! But no matter what the problem being faced, the circumstance being endured, one thing remains the same: victory in Jesus.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” James 16:33 ESV
“Dear friends, do not be surprised by the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But, rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT
It is easy to ask God, “Why me? Why now?” My mom once said to a friend who cried these same questions, “Why not you?” To suffer is hard, but it allows God to reveal Himself in unbelievable and personal ways. Your life becomes a display of His mighty power and wonderful grace. The trials are never something we want, but it is a privilege to let God use them and us to bring about glory.
Rest assured that your pain is not for nothing. The final outcome will not appear empty. There is a purpose it can be used for.
“If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” Oswald Chambers
It will hurt in the moment, but the outcome is always so much greater than we imagine.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV