Article: ARE YOU REJOICING IN SUFFERINGS? | Jacob Varghese

It is a startling fact that part of God’s plan for every human being includes a certain amount of suffering. All people suffer: rich or poor, smart or dumb, Indian or American, Christian or non- Christian. Suffering of some kind is part of God’s plan for human beings. Suffering can be defined as the removal or reduction of one or more of the things that make up the good things of life as we know it, things we call fine points of life. Things related to ones personal life, family life, social life, or community life. Things like loved ones, friends, money, health, marriage, job, house, possessions of life etc and when you lose any one of these things that you enjoy, the result is suffering.

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We identify two types of happiness in life. The first type of human happiness is derived from any of the fine points of life. The other type is divine happiness which is the inner joy produced as part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Life. Human happiness is temporary and dependent. It lasts only as long as the thing that provides the happiness exists. God’s happiness is independent of any thing in this world. One way of describing suffering is to say that suffering comes from the removal of the human happiness. Suffering occurs by several means in human life. Suffering by the lack of something, which is necessary such as food, shelter, clothing etc and suffering by loss of health, suffering from the weather, suffering from mental anguish, suffering caused by other people etc.

It is so easy to thank God and sing His praises when life is on a roll and everything is going great. We don’t seem to have a care in the world, and we thank God for all the blessings He has given to us. The job is going well, no one is sick, the bills are being paid, our spouses are happy, we have a roof over our heads, food on the table and life couldn’t be better. It is easy for us to rejoice. But is this the way life really is? Of course not! We face daily struggles that Satan uses to place doubt in our minds, causing us to wonder if God really loves us. We face daily hardships of this sinful world. And yet the Apostle Paul instructs us in the midst of hardship, pain, suffering, frustration and heartache to, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. One of the most useful practices in the Christian way of life is to “cast all care” on God as he invites us to do.

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Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; like many birds they sing best in their cages. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be directed to the Lord alone, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear, and His ability to assist, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths, but rather cry with more earnestness, for He will not long deny us a hearing.

There are many positive aspects of suffering that we overlook. Proverbs 30:8&9 says, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” If calamity occurs in our life, it can bring us back to our sense of what is really important and what is not. Diamonds must be treated roughly to make them shine. The more they are cut, minced and ground, the more they sparkle! Someone said, “If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always down in the pits?” Well, we pray our hardest when we are in the pits, don’t we? We’ve all heard of people who suddenly “get spiritual” and uncharacteristically pray to a God they have ignored when tragedy strikes. I heard of a man who said after suffering a lengthy unbearable injury, “I’ve learned more about praying to God in these last 6 weeks than in 40 years as a Christian.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” People who have endured hardship are God’s healing messengers when others experience the same!

God allows suffering because the earth is not man’s ultimate eternal home. The suffering of this world makes us desire our eternal dwelling with God in the heavens. Even with all our prosperity, heaven is beyond our wildest dreams! Suffering in this life helps us focus on and long for the next! Ephesians 3:20 say “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask.” We need to remember that we live in a physical world with physical laws. We hit our toes, cut our fingers, break our legs, catch the flu, and get into accidents. Some things just happen by the very nature of our physical existence. No one is to blame. But if blame is to be laid, let’s not rule out the actions of the devil, who afflicted Job with great tribulation, tempted Jesus to sin, and prowls about like a lion seeking someone to devour! If you want to blame suffering on someone, why blame the loving God who asks us to “cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you” and let the devil get off blameless?

In conclusion, I urge you to understand God’s purpose for us in suffering. Then you can join with Paul and say, I rejoice in tribulations also because I know this light and momentary trial will produce such a wonderful effect in life. Suffering comes into everyone’s life. Christians are not immune from suffering. But Christians need to approach suffering differently than those who have no hope. You may not be able to rejoice right at the moment of trial. Hebrews 12:11 says plainly, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it,” Right at the moment of hurt, you are not going to feel like rejoicing, but it should soon follow that you rejoice in your suffering. And that is what Paul plainly says: “We also rejoice in suffering.”
JACOB VARGHESE

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