Fight to rejoice in your suffering

Fight to rejoice in your suffering

The more I walk with the Lord the more I am confronted with the paradox and mystery of suffering and joy. Comparatively speaking I have experienced little suffering for the sake of Christ, but the suffering I have experienced has brought me into depths of joy in Christ that would otherwise be hidden. And yet, I have found that this joy does not automatically and instantly spring up when affliction is poured upon my life like some dehydrated potato that becomes an instant meal by just adding water. No! Like all of Christ’s benefits toward us, joy in suffering must be fought for by faith.

Habakkuk’s faith was tested by God’s silence in response to his prayer about the prevailing wickedness of the leaders of Judah who oppressed their own people (Hab 1:2-4). Yet, the Lord encouraged Habakkuk to live by faith in dependence on Him and His word (Hab 2:4) and Habakkuk responded saying, “I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:18). The Apostle Paul, despite suffering in prison for the sake of Christ, told the church at Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again” … just in case you missed it the first time … “I will say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4).  To the church at Corinth Paul tells them that though he had suffered through “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger … dishonor … slander … treated as impostors” (2 Cor 6:4-8) for the sake of Christ, yet he was “always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10). Peter and John, having been beaten and threatened with their life lest they speak of Christ again, “left the council rejoicing” (Acts 5:41). And the list could go on and on. But the question I want answered is, why should you rejoice in your sufferings? Here are a few things to consider:

Firstly, suffering matures you in ways nothing else will.

In the classic go too passage, yet so often overlooked because of familiarity, James commands you to “count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds” because your suffering in the end causes you to “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). God is interested in a complete formation of virtues in your life that only suffering can achieve. John Newton, in a lesser-known hymn, penned this truth in these words:

These inward trials I employ

From self and pride to set thee free;

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou may’st find thy all in me.”

Rejoice knowing that God completes His purposes toward you through your suffering.

Secondly, suffering frees you from the possessions of this world.

The writer to the Hebrews described his recipients as those who “joyfully accepted the plundering of [their] property, since [they] knew that [they themselves] had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34). The persecution they received caused them to release their grip upon the possessions of this world and hold firmly by faith to a better and lasting possession in heaven. Rejoice in suffering, for you have a better possession in heaven that will never fade or be lost.

Thirdly, we will be compensated for our suffering at the coming of Christ.

The Apostle Peter reminds us of this truth, telling us to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13).

Fourthly, suffering for Christ brings Gods smile and approval.

Peter goes on to state, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Pet 4:14). Know this beloved, in your season of suffering God’s smile and approval rests upon you. He is covering you, guarding you and encouraging you. Therefore, rejoice!

Fifthly, suffering ignites Christs power.

Paul found this through personal experience and said, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). This is the paradox of power. The spiritual math is foolishness to the world. It is never “my weakness plus His strength equals my power.” But it is always “my weakness plus His strength equals His power”. Rejoice in your sufferings, for in them Christ’s power is unleashed.

Take heart in your suffering, faithful Christian, and rejoice. Your sovereign God purposed you to walk along paths others are not as privileged to walk and to experience depths of joy and delight in Him that are yours alone. “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Heb 12:12) and rejoice that you have been counted worthy to suffer for His name.


  1. NW

    Thanks Ps Craig for writing, may God keep filling you with joy in the midst of your trials.

    May you be comforted knowing that you are His son. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭5‬-‭7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    • Craig Baxter (Author)

      Thank you Nicole for your comments and beautiful reminder of our sonship in Christ from Hebrews. I am thanking the Lord to be counted among His beloved children.

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