Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’”
Romans 5:2-3 “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”
Suffering is a mystery. But we find that the more we suffer the closer we lean into Jesus. We ask helplessly for burdens to be lifted, for pain to be eradicated. Yet experience has taught many of us that the more we experience pain and suffering, the closer we get to our Savior.
Suffering drives us to prayer, to our knees. It draws in us to mature in confidence and trust in God. The word confide means “with faith,” so it is an opportunity to grow in faith. The rock of joy can be rooted deep in your suffering, but only through Jesus. As we take steps of faith, we can take steps of joy in the suffering. As we “bear our cross,” he promises his grace is sufficient. It is the rhythm of life; joy and suffering can abide together. Joy comes through suffering, as you recognize that the end result is to end up closer to him. Suffering will drive us to Jesus.
Suffering does a mysterious dance with joy, and God desires to teach us the steps as we trust him and die to ourselves.
You can draw on the deep reserve of joy. Think about the last time you felt the presence of God. Read Philippians 4:4-7. What does Paul encourage us to do when we are suffering?
God, show me your power. Help me to draw closer to you in the middle of my situation and live by faith. Give me confidence to trust you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.