Thankfully, joy is an all-season response to life. Even in the dark times, sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy. Like a diamond against black velvet, true spiritual joy shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedies and testing.
In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.
Therefore, I bind these lies and slanderous accusations to my person as an ornament; it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached and reviled, and since all this is nothing but that, as God and my conscience testify, I rejoice in being reproached for Christ's sake.
Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand spent 14 years in prison for preaching the gospel. Although his captors smashed four of his vertebrae and either cut or burned 18 holes in his body, they could not defeat him. He testified, “Alone in my cell, cold, hungry, and in rags, I danced for joy every night.” During this time he turned to a fellow prisoner, a man he had led to the Lord before they were arrested, and asked, “Have you any resentment against me that I brought you to Christ?” His response: “I have no words to express my thankfulness that you brought me to the wonderful Savior. I would never have it another way.” These two men exemplify the supernatural joy that can be experienced by believers who live on the edge of death as the result of being severely persecuted.
Though my natural instinct is to wish for a life free from pain, trouble, and adversity, I am learning to welcome anything that makes me conscious of my need for Him. If prayer is birthed out of desperation, then anything that makes me desperate for God is a blessing…Puritan pastor William Gurnall makes this point in his writings, “The hungry man needs no help to teach him how to beg.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
An evidence that our will has been broken is that we begin to thank God for that which once seemed so bitter, knowing that His will is good and that, in His time and in His way, He is able to make the most bitter waters sweet.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
In our sufferings for Christ there is joy, not so when we suffer for our sins.
The apostles went away rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, that they were graced so far as to be disgraced for the name of Christ!
Paul and James both say that we should rejoice in our trials because of their beneficial results. It is not the adversity considered in itself that is to be the ground of our joy. Rather, it is the expectation of the results, the development of our character that should cause us to rejoice in adversity. God does not ask us to rejoice because we have lost our job, or a loved one has been stricken with cancer, or a child has been born with an incurable birth defect. But He does tell us to rejoice because we believe He is in control of those circumstances and is at work through them for our ultimate good.
You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.
Joy in God in the midst of suffering makes the worth of God – the all-satisfying glory of God – shine more brightly than it would through our joy at any other time. Sunshine happiness signals the value of sunshine. But happiness in suffering signals the value of God. Suffering and hardship joyfully accepted in the path of obedience to Christ show the supremacy of Christ more than all our faithfulness in fair day.
People are not prepared or able to rejoice in suffering unless they experience a massive biblical revolution of how they think and feel about the meaning of life. Human nature and American culture make it impossible to rejoice in suffering. This is a miracle in the human soul wrought by God through His Word.
The night dews of affliction and disappointment may fall thickly upon it – the storms of sorrow may beat heavily against it – the winds of adversity may howl fearfully around it – but, like those fabled lamps of which we read, that, century after century, illumined the sepulchers of the east – burning with calm and steady light, amid the desolation of all earthly things – unchanged and unextinguishable; so does this joy – this living spark struck off from the great source of light and life – outlive all deaths, all changes, until it accompanies the freed spirit of the believer in whom it dwells, back to those abodes of joy from whence it came.
Let thy great joy and comfort evermore be, to have His pleasure done in thee, though in pains, sickness, persecutions, oppressions, or inward griefs and pressures of heart, coldness or barrenness of mind, darkening of thy will and senses, or any temptations spiritual or bodily.
Out of the fullness of God the Father you have been blessed with large numbers and are predestined from eternity to enjoy forever continual and unfading glory. The source of your unity and election is genuine suffering, which you undergo by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God. Hence, you deserve to be considered happy.