There are many different ways that God uses suffering to shape us and develop our character. Keeping our joy in painful situations is one of them. Pain brings me anything but joy naturally. When it hurts to do what I want to do and daily tasks are tiring, the last thing I want to do is be joyful, but that is what God has called us to do.
Having the hope of Christ allows us to find joy in every difficult circumstance, obstacle, or painful situation. We are to stay hopeful and joyful in ALL circumstances because of Christ in us. This is difficult if our hope and joy aren’t in Jesus but rather our wealth, health, home, family, position, job etc. These things are always changing and never last! God never changes and his hope is forever! This is the good news that we can cling to in difficult times.
Whatever pain you are dealing with, you can remain joyful rather than depressed. You can focus on the never-changing promises of God rather than negativity. Below are things that I focus on that help keep God at the center of my attention rather than what is going on around and in me.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
• Stay hopeful that one day you will be pain-free.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
We may not be healed of our pain in this lifetime, but we have been promised that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will enter into heaven’s rest, and will finally be relieved of our pain.
• Know that you will get to the other side of the flare!
That it is a test of your faith. Commit to passing the test (not complaining, cursing God, giving up or sinning) and using your pain for a purpose, especially to comfort others. Suffering produces growth and maturity and we should take joy in that!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. so let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
• Be excited that if you pass the test, you will come out better and more refined on the other side. God is teaching you something if you will invite Him in and listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Suffering refines us and we come out on the other side stronger.
…I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
• Be excited to be given the test, for if you pass you will reap rewards. Whether your test is a single flare, or continual cycles of flares and remission, a season of pain, or a lifelong journey, know that it is God’s will and you can overcome negativity and despair! God sees everything and He will reward us; sometimes in this life, and always in heaven. Keep building your heavenly rewards by staying obedient to God and trusting Him.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God
• Pay attention in your flare to what comforts you and what doesn’t. Notice how you feel, what you need, what makes you feel worse and better. Like mentioned above, suffering equips us to comfort others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Suffering gives us compassion for others who are hurting, enabling us to minister more effectively
We can share what comforts us (like I am here), or when someone else is experiencing pain around us, be patient with them, extend them grace and do what comforted us. We can find joy in helping others.
- Give thanks. It is difficult to give thanks for something that is uncomfortable, but I have finally come to a place where I can genuinely give thanks to the pain God has placed in my life.
When one of my joints screams in pain, I choose to say thank you Lord because the pain is a reminder for me to be in close relationship with Him. Rather than becoming angry and asking God why, I use it as a reminder to pray, a reminder to cast my cares, a reminder that He loves me, a reminder to seek Him, a reminder to ask for His presence, strength, energy, comfort, patience and joy.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
- Worship. Worship music is a great way to express and gain joy while also expressing gratitude. I love having worship music on to help me focus rather than worry.
Stay hopeful, positive and FULL of JOY!