Three Ways Faith Makes Suffering Joyful
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
by John A Carroll
Week 26 in the Word- June 25, 2021
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds James 1:2 ESV
When you believed in Jesus, did you expect the Christian life to be the easiest way to live? Did you come to Christ to have a better life, but now your life is harder? How can faith help you be joyful in suffering? Read on for three ways that may change your life.
Last week I wrote about faith as the essence of Christian living. By definition, a Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ, so faith is an indispensable virtue for the Christian. This truth is both taught and exemplified in the Bible.
We are saved by faith. We walk by faith. We live by faith. We please God by faith. Until we get home to glory, faith will always be foundational to our life as Christians.
While faith is the essence of Christian living, suffering is the experience of the believer. Faith and suffering both are found in the life of followers of Jesus.
Those who profess faith in Christ with the illusion that by doing so they will enjoy an easier life will be disappointed. Suffering is a part of human life, and it is present in varying degrees in the life of every believer. But suffering as a believer is different from suffering merely as a human being.
This week we will continue reading in Job and Acts. We will be seeing how two believers (Job in the Old Testament and Stephen in the New) both suffered for their faith. As men of faith, they endured suffering. How does faith make suffering joyful? Here are three ways:
1. Faith enables the believer to make sense out of suffering.
Christians come to understand that suffering is normal. Suffering is not a result of bad luck or poor planning but is part of God’s plan for His people.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV). Persecution is not the only kind of suffering which Christian’s experience, but it is the suffering that is a result of being a believer not just of being human.
2. Faith enables the believer to endure suffering.
By faith, the believer has confidence that God is using his suffering for a good purpose. Job’s wife provides a negative example of this principle when she ridiculed him for holding fast to his integrity (Job 2:9). Job responded that she was being foolish and reminded her that God had given them good and now He was giving them evil (Job 2:10). So, Job continued to believe that God was in control and that it was proper to trust Him even though what he was being given seemed evil. Later, Job would say, “I know that my Redeemer lives…in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself…” Job 19:25-27.
Peter wrote to the suffering Christians of the first century: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV underline mine).
3. Faith enables the believer to grow through suffering.
God ensures that only necessary suffering comes to the life of a believer. In the passage above, Peter uses the phrase “if necessary” before “you have been grieved." Paul told the Corinthians, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13b).
God is too kind to send us unnecessary suffering, and He is too wise to send us unnecessary suffering. The Lord tailors our suffering for our specific needs—neither too big, nor too small. So, for the believer there is suffering but never unnecessary suffering. Whatever your trial today, it is sent by the good, wise, all-powerful Father from whom every good and perfect gift comes (James 1:17).
God sent suffering to both Job and Stephen. Job suffered physically, materially, socially, and spiritually, but, in the end, he came to know God more and all his losses were restored. Stephen used his last breath to declare the glory of God and then died by stoning. His example of faithfulness lives on, just as Job’s does. But God designed for each of them to suffer in different ways and with different outcomes for His glory.
We can be joyful in our suffering because we know it is apportioned to us by God. We can rejoice in our suffering because we know it will be used by God to test and strengthen our faith. We can be glad in our suffering because we know it is never more than we can bear and never more than we need.
That is how faith makes suffering joyful.
Week of June 25-July 1, 2021
June 25/Day 176 The Danger of Forsaking the Fear of the Almighty (Job 4-6; Acts 7:20-43) June 26/Day 177 Wanted: Celestial Mediator (Job 7-9; Acts 7:44-60) June 27/Day 178 When Believers Suffer (Job 10-12; Acts 8:1-25) June 28/Day 179 God’s Ambassadors (Job 13-15; Acts 8:26-40) June 29/Day 180 Surprise! Role Reversals from God (Job 16-18; Acts 9:1-22) June 30/Day 181 Strength for Today; Hope for Tomorrow (Job 19-20; Acts 9:23-43) July 1/Day 182 The Christian and Personal Piety (Job 21-22; Acts 10:1-23)