How to be joyful while suffering

How to be joyful while suffering? Let’s dive into and understand the joy of suffering.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

(James 1:2-4 KJV)

James wrote, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” In verse 12 of the same chapter he also wrote, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” 

 However, there is a clarification that James wants to give us. In verse 13 in the same chapter it says: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted  of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man.”

On the one hand it seems that temptations are sent to us from God and we are to consider it a privilege to pass through them, but on the other hand we are told that God does not tempt any man. In order to understand these verses, it is necessary to know the meaning of the words that are translated “trial and temptation.” 

The same Greek word is used in all three of the verses quoted from James (verses 2,12-13). Yet there are different shades of meaning intended by the author. The word is used in its noun form in verses 2 and 12 and its verb form in verse 13. The noun is peirasmos and the verb us peirazo. The root word of these forms has such meanings as test, try and prove. 

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The matter of significance about peirazo  is that it is used in both a good sense and a bad sense. It can have the idea of testing with the purpose of bringing out that which is good, or it can have the idea of testing with the purpose of bringing out that which is bad.

When the word is used in regard to Satan, it has the bad sense of bringing out that which is evil or soliciting to evil. Satan himself is known as “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3). Satan thought he could get Christ to respond to evil, but because Christ is God, there was nothing in Him which answered to evil. Christ told Satan, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). Satan was not trying to bring out that which was good in God but was endeavoring to solicit Him to evil.

When Ananias and Sapphira lied about the amount they had received for their land, Peter asked Sapphira, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9). They were not trying to bring out that which was good in the Lord, so the word is used in its bad sense in this context. 

The word peirazo is used in 2 Corinthians 13:5, where Paul told the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” In this context the Corinthians were obviously to look at the good as well as the bad in their lives. So that word is also used in a good sense. Thus, in the Book of James, the “divers temptations” have a good purpose in view-to bring out that which is good in the believers. This is also true regarding James 1:12. However, the word is used in its negative sense in verse 13, as is evident from the words, “for God cannot be tempted with evil.” In the phrase “neither tempteth He any man,” it is with reference to “with evil.” Therefore, God never solicits a person to do evil but rather He allows tests into a person’s life that will bring out that which is good in him.

The trials and temptations refers to some form of difficulty or pressure in our lives (sometimes from the world of Satan) that God allows to test and prove our faith, and to develop in us perseverance and godly character, so that we may mature and complete, not lacking anything. We are to face trials and temptations, therefore with joy because of the righteous fruit it produces in us as we persevere in faith and hope. Our faith can only reach full maturity when faced with trials and oppositions. James calls these temptations a testing of your faith. 

You are partakers of Christ’s sufferings

Just as Christ was being tried and tested by the devil, yet because of who He is, we can rejoice in our sufferings. The reason for it is because we have become partakers in Christ’s sufferings. In the Book of 1 Peter 4:13 KJV it says “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 

The New Testament emphasizes that trials and temptations are the inevitable experience of faithful believers in an ungodly world controlled by Satan and opposed to the gospel. Those who are committed to Jesus Christ with a devoted and loyal faith, who live by the Spirit and who love the truth of the gospel will experience trouble and sorrow. In fact, suffering because of righteousness is an evident of the genuineness of one’s devotion to Christ. 

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Being a partakers of Christ’s suffering

Through painful trials God allows Christians to share in His suffering and forms within us the quality of character He desires. Yet when we suffer and remain faithful to Christ, we will be considered blessed, for “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us” (1 Peter 4:14). Those who suffer because of their loyalty to Christ are blessed, for the Holy Spirit’s presence and the favor of God will rest on them in a special way as a foretaste of heaven’s glory.

It is a principle within God’s kingdom that suffering for Christ’s cause will increase the depth of the believer’s joy in the Lord. Therefore, those involved in little or no suffering for the Lord are not to be envied. In suffering, believers follow the example of Christ and the apostles (1 Peter 2:21). 

Believers must be willing to suffer, in other words, to share in the sufferings of Christ, and expect suffering to be a part of their ministry. Suffering for Christ is called suffering “according to God’s will” ( 1 Peter 2:19), for His “name” (Acts 9:16), “for the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8), “for what is right” (1 Peter 2:14) and “for the kingdom of God” (2 Thessalonians 1:5).

Suffering for Christ is a way to arrive at spiritual maturity, to obtain God’s blessing and to minister life to others. Sharing in Christ’s suffering prepares us to share in His glory. In this sense it may be regarded as a precious gift from God. Because through suffering we came to know God in a very personal way. In living for Christ and the gospel, suffering should not be sought, but believers must be willing to undergo it as part of our devotion to Christ.

You will inherit the kingdom of God

Being a follower of Christ is not an easy path. There are a lot of sacrifices to make. But the great part about it is that we don’t have to do it alone. The Spirit of God is with us to help us carry on and look forward with much hope and anticipation to what is waiting for us in heaven. In the Book of Romans 8:17-18 KJV it says: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” 

Paul reminds us that a victorious life in the Spirit is no easy path. Jesus suffered, and we who follow Him will also suffer. This suffering is considered a suffering with Him, and it is the consequence of our relationship to God as His children, our identification with Christ, our witness for Him and our refusal to conform to the world. 

All the sufferings of this present age: sickness, pain, misery, disappointments, loss, poverty, mistreatment, sorrow, persecution and trouble of any kind-must be considered insignificant when compared with the blessing, privileges and glory that will be given to the faithful believer in the age to come.

Though we suffer through many trials in this life we can still rejoice and have that unspeakable joy within because of our identity with Christ.We do not suffer for nothing. We have something very special to look forward to. In the Book of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 KJV it says; “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

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Those who put their faith and trust in God will inherit God’s kingdom.

“Outwardly” refers to the physical body, subject to decay and moving toward death because of mortality and the troubles of life. “Inwardly” refers to the human spirit that has the spiritual life of Christ. Although our bodies age and decay, we experience ongoing renewal through the constant impartation of Christ’s life and power; His influence enables our minds, emotions and wills to be conformed to His likeness and eternal purpose.

The hardships endured in the lives of those who remain faithful to Christ are light in comparison to the abundance of glory we have through Christ. This glory is already present in part, but will be fully experienced in the future. When we reach our heavenly inheritance, we will say that the severest tribulations were nothing compared with the glory of the eternal state. Therefore, we must not lose hope or give up our faith as we face our problems.

Another scripture that encourages us to rejoice even through our trials and testings found in the Book of Matthew 5:10-12 KJV it says; “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Persecution will be the lot of all who seek to live in harmony with God’s Word for the sake of righteousness. Those who uphold God’s standards of truth, justice and purity, and who at the same time refuse to compromise with the present evil society or the lifestyle of lukewarm believers, will undergo unpopularity, rejection and criticism. Persecution and opposition will come from the world and at times from those within the professing church. 

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Christ’s followers will go through sufferings

When the believers experience this suffering, Christians are to rejoice, for to those who suffer most God imparts the highest blessing. Christians must beware of the temptation to compromise God’s will in order to avoid shame, embarrassment or loss. The principles of God’s kingdom never change: “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. Those who suffer and endure persecution because of righteousness are promised the kingdom and heavenly rewards.

Arlene Allison

I am an ordained minister who is doing missionary work for over 15 years now. I was born in one of the island in the Philippines called Cebu. Growing up in a poor condition, I managed to overcome the hurdles of life with a positive attitude, grateful for everything and most of all by the grace of God. I have always challenge myself to do better with my life at a young age and pursue my dreams and ambitions in life by working hard and never complains about the hardships I went through. I have become successful in so many ways that I want to share my life's journey and how I can help you improve your life and reach your goals to a height of success. You can't imagine now how much you can really do if you just have a positive outlook of life and have the attitude of being grateful in every circumstance.

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