Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. (James 1:2)
Suffering is never a pleasant experience. Most sane individuals do not enjoy suffering. But the reality of living in this world is that we will have to endure hardships, trials, difficulties, disappointments, pain, anguish, sorrow, and grief. In the midst of suffering, it is often difficult to see any benefit to what we are enduring. However, there is a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud. There is value in suffering. There is good that comes from it. We can mire in self-pity, or we can allow our sufferings to make us stronger, better, more committed, more determined, more faithful. What value can we find in suffering the reverses and setbacks of life? Suffering reminds us of how awful sin is. Some of the pain and heartache that we endure in this world is due to sinful choices that we make. Other times we are made to endure hardships and tribulations because of the poor choices that other people make. Sometimes we suffer just because we live in this old sin-cursed world. I am not saying that all suffering is directly related to sin on the part of the sufferer, but I am saying that all pain, sickness, heartache, turmoil, disappointment, and the like are in the world due to sin (see Gen.3:16-19; John 8:44). All of these evils that befall us in life ought to make us despise the Devil and loathe sin even more than we do now. Suffering reminds us of how amazing heaven is. There is a place where there is no pain, no suffering, no death, no tears (Rev.21:4). There is a place where no evil can enter therein (Rev.21:27). There is a place where all wrongs will be made right (Rom.12:19-21). That place is the eternal bliss of heaven. With every pain, or heartache, or injustice, or tribulation that we must suffer through upon this earth, our desire for heaven should grow greater and greater. We long for a better country (Heb.11:16). Suffering here makes me want to go there. My citizenship is in that land (Phil.3:20). My heavenly home is where my heart is (John 14:1-6; Matt.6:19-21). Suffering reminds us of how awesome Jesus is. Think of all that Jesus endured for you and for me, so that he could be a faithful and merciful High Priest (Heb.2:14-18). He was mocked, beaten, spit upon, and crucified so that we might leave this land of sorrow behind. When we look at what our Lord went through so that we might have eternal life in heaven, it makes our pains and sufferings seem so insignificant, doesn’t it? While there was no joy in the suffering he endured, he did count it a joy to be able to suffer for us (Heb.12:2)! If my Savior suffered for me, then I can count it all joy to be able to suffer for him (Acts 5:41). James reminds us that there is joy to be found in enduring the hardships and trials of life (James 1:2), because in patiently enduring whatever is brought upon us we learn to trust God even more. Jesus gives us an example in suffering (1 Pet.2:21), that we might follow his steps. God brought Jesus through every trial, and He will bring us through as well. He looks down from heaven, knowing what we are going through, offering us his comfort, his mercy, his grace. Through all of the suffering, lean upon him who suffered for you, and he will carry you through!
“Gracious God, thank you for bringing us through the trials of life. Help us to lean upon you every moment of every day. When we suffer, help us to cast our cares upon you, for we know you care for us. Thank you for giving us the perfect example of how to face the difficulties of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”