Is there Joy after Suffering?

“How long will you torture me?  How long will you try to crush me with your words?…”

If I had to write a short synopsis of today’s reading it would sound something like:  Job complains, Zophar responds with self-righteousness and then Job complains again.  I must admit that I have a difficult time with the Book of Job and no matter how many commentaries I read or how hard I try to “wrap my head” around the verses there are times that my thoughts become cold.  Why do my thoughts become cold?  Could it possibly be because I get exhasuted listening to the back and forth banter and want all the parties to hear what the other is saying?  Or is it because suffering strikes a nerve in me, a nerve that touches those deep-rooted feelings of ‘what if’ this happens to me?  As Christians we can all embrace the spirit of Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God:  those who are called according to His purpose.”  Those are powerful words with a powerful meaning but when we are in the “thick” of being tested or suffering sometimes our human emotions override the trust that we should have in God’s truths.  Am I like Job who complains or do I suffer in silence accepting that although it may not occur overnight that there will be lessons and joy gained from our sufferings.

John MacArthur, Jr. wrote a book entitled The Power of Suffering in 1995 that I read several years ago which challenged my thoughts on suffering and I thought that I would share his concepts on joy as it relates to suffering.

  • Suffering produces fresh joy – When we suffer we crave our eternal inheritance which is joy.  Sometimes during our periods of darkness we choose to focus only on the negatives of the circumstances and the dark moments that surround them.  In 1 Peter 1:3-7 Peter says, it is”reserved” in heaven for us, so instead of choosing darkness we can choose to remind ourselves of the reservation made by God, “purchased by Jesus Christ, and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.”
  • Trials and suffering prove our faith – Just as in Job, when we persevere through periods of suffering, God affirms to us “the strength of our saving faith.”
  • Spiritual growth is enhanced in our suffering – I can say it no better than what is promised us in James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
  • Suffering produces true comfort – Because of our suffering we experience the supreme comfort that can only be provided by our Heavenly Father.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  It is only through our suffering that we can comfort others.
  • Suffering brings about greater wisdom – In our suffering we seek out God for wisdom bringing about a greater dependence on God.  This dependence is synonymous with prayer.
  • Suffering brings with it great humility – Suffering knows no bounds, it does not discriminate based on wealth or status in life.  “The humiliation of suffering and trials will also remind us that earthly riches are temporary; they fade away like grass.”

I leave you with the words of William Cowper (1774) as he ministered to John Newton:

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

1 God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea 

And rides upon the storm

4 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

5 His purposes will ripen fast, 

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flow’r

6 Blind unbelief is sure to err

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

Blessings

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6 thoughts on “Is there Joy after Suffering?

  1. MA, what beautiful words. I too have struggled with Job. There are nuggets of truth within the conversations but overall, it just hurts my brain. Here is a man that was blameless before God and his reputation proceeded him and then in a blink of an eye everything is taken from him. As I write this reply, I find myself chuckling because how often have I sat around, walked around and seriously tried to figure out the whys of life! I know everything happens for a reason and in my younger reason by jolly I was going to find out why, figure it out and nothing was going to persuade me otherwise. Oh but the Lord in His mercies and by His grace He is transforming me. Lord, we thank You for Your faithfulness. We thank You for Your Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, that is with us forever. Even though we can’t see Him, we believe He lives within us. Help is with our unbelief, forgive us of our pride, Lord! May we walk humbly beside You today and we ask You give us Your eyes to see others and their sufferings, that we may offer encouraging words, a smile, a warm gesture or even a silent prayer. Thank You, Lord! We love You, help us to desire more of You, to grow deeper into You and to follow You all the days of our lives! In Jesus Name we pray, Amen! Love and hugs! BethanySent from my iPhone

  2. Mary Ann, I realized something as I read your post today. The verse you shared:“all things work together for the good…” happens to be a verse that my mom spoke of quite often during my childhood; in fact, it was more than likely the only verse I may have known by heart prior to reading the Bible! I now realize that because she engrained it in me, it is part of my belief system. I know for a fact that all things work out for good. This is something I plan to thank her for the next time I see her. She planted many seeds within me as I was growing up and God is allowing me the glimpses to remember them! It was such a “God Moment” as I read your teaching today!When the tragic event happened to me a couple of years ago, God was right there by my side. Oh, it has been a time of suffering, at times almost unbearable. As I went down your list I realized how gracious God was with me. I have truly experienced every single one of those points the past couple of years. If the worst thing did not happen in my life, I do not think I’d ever believe that those items on the list could possibly be true. But, now – I can say without hesitation, that I’ve experienced the benefits of suffering. And, I can see all of the points playing out in Job’s life. For when we suffer God enlightens us of the sin within. He exposes it over time and draws us to be able to empty ourselves of it. And, as that happens, He grows within and we are enriched by His wisdom, and all along He has a way, a sovereign plan to equip us as He places His vision within our heart! He drives us to the place where we finally get why we were created in the first place. His kingdom. And, as we begin to further it through His guidance and strength the joy sprinkles over us and the blanket of peace warms our heart. Wonderful teaching today MA, and Bethany, thank you for the prayer your shared with us! In humble awe of our big God, may we set out to begin a new day, more time to grow in deeper intimacy with our Jesus! May everyone have a blessed day!Lori

  3. Amen MaryAnn, Bethany and Lori. All of your words together spoke to my heart. Suffering is not fun. Our human nature drives us towards “fun”…..But fun is fleeting; fun is momentary; fun is based solely on circumstances. JOY! I’ll take that any day over fun. And where is joy found? Only in the Lord. Only in allowing Him to mold me, to make me, to sanctify me, to change my heart. When all of me is swept away, and all that is left is Him….there abides JOY. In Him. Amen, and amen.This ties together with my reading today of Joseph….his brothers have just sold him off to foreigners….as Joseph’s story unfolds, we see that his joy is found in the Lord. All that he goes thru and he is still able to find joy because he trusts in the Lord. Thank You God, for the examples of Job and Joseph. Amen.Blessings!Morgen

  4. MA I just love this post and your thoughts today and I am going to copy this poem down in my journal. Bethany, Lori and Morgen, loved what you said as well. Will is till home sick and taking him to the doctor today. I did get a post done for FB but that is about all I have time for this morning. Love you guys! Have a blessed day :)FB post:I love how Terry started us off today- even in the midst of Job’s pain he was able to have that moment where he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:21 NIV). Sometimes we really have to make ourselves remember that in the struggles of life. When Job said this he was at a place where he felt like God had blocked his way so that he could not pass through, that his paths were veiled with darkness (Job 19:8), but even in that pain he was able to have some clarity that said my Redeemer lives! And today we can praise that yes, our Redeemer does live. This reminded me of the story of the disciples when they were in the boat on the sea and the violent storm was raging all around them. What was Jesus doing? He was sleeping. They were terrified with the storm swirling around them but yet Jesus was calm in that storm and He was right there with them. At the perfect time, Jesus got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and all was calm again (Matthew 8:23-27). Even though they were scared, Jesus had never left them. They may have felt like Job at that moment, darkness surrounding them. David tells us in Psalm 4:1, “You freed me from affliction; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” The affliction is a place where we feel hemmed in, trapped by enemies, the place where our circumstances are putting us in a place we see nothing but darkness. We can remember like Job and the disciples that even in these places Jesus is there. He is there, our living Redeemer, with us in our boats. We can always call to Him and He will hear us, even expressing our deepest heart’s cries in the midst of swirling storms. <3>Brandee

  5. RepostGreat responses, sissies. Mary Ann, yes I love this post, too. Joy after suffering – I can answer yes to that. I wonder though if God sometimes ask us to have joy IN the suffering. That is harder for me to do. When suffering I like to wallow a bit. Uhm, who am I kidding? I like to wallow a lot. In my reading Jacob received the news that Joseph was “mauled” by a wild animal. The brothers “took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. (Genesis 37:31 ESV)” Just as his mother used goat skin to deceive Isaac all those years ago, his sons used another goat to deceive him about Joseph. Our actions, good or bad, always bear fruit. It may not be immediate but we always reap what we sow. Makes me pause and think about what I’m sowing today.Have a blessed day, sissies!

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