How can someone find joy in suffering? That might sound like a silly questions because by definition there shouldn’t be any joy in suffering. For the Christian it is possible. We might need to define a few terms.
- Suffering – to endure death, pain, or distress
- Joy – the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
I think that there is room in the definition of joy to endure just about anything. A woman who has gone through labor and delivery does not care that she is exhausted and in misery because she has the joy of holding her child. So also in our Bible study we find Paul and Silas wincing in pain from a severe flogging sitting in an ancient jail. That sounds like a recipe for death, yet the two missionaries found joy in Christ to sing, to confess their faith.
You can understand that the other prisoners sat up and took notice of this spectacle. Paul and Silas weren’t saying anything differently than they had their whole time in Philippi, but the circumstances demanded an audience. The other prisoners and the jailer took note.
I have seen this first hand when a member of our church is called home to heaven. At the funeral there is real suffering as the loved ones weep in their loss, but that isn’t the only emotion present in the room. There is joy. God’s people can rejoice in the victory won in Jesus for the recently deceased. That person is in glory. No matter what the circumstances – even tragic ones – there is joy in knowing that a Christians has joined the Saints Triumphant.
Want to hear more? Watch this weeks Bible study in our video series Ends of the Earth: Joy in Suffering.
Please click HERE for the Bible class slides.