Suffering and Joy (23 Jun 2019)

Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul sets an example of enduring hardship for the sake of the gospel and for others. He writes this letter while still in prison, yet his attitude shows that he views his setbacks and hardships as part of his calling and not a reason to feel shameful or discouraged. He could rejoice in the midst of his sufferings.

Many of you would be familiar with the trials faced by Paul as he went everywhere the Lord led him to in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple believers. This theme of suffering is seen not only in the life of Paul. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Suffering is such a common theme in the Bible that one cannot deny that it is an essential aspect of being a Christian. Yet, this is easy to forget because comfort and convenience is all around us in this day and age.

At the same time, that does not mean that we hang our heads low and moan and groan from our sufferings all day. Another important aspect of the Christian life is joy! The theme of joy is evident throughout the Bible, and we do have great reason to rejoice. The salvation that we have received because of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a wonderful blessing that brings us great joy no matter the situation we are in. It gives us hope that eventually all will be well. Jesus will come again and makes all things complete – in His time. In the meantime, we persevere and plod on for Jesus while we are still here in our earthly bodies.

Ajith Fernando, in his book “The Call to Joy and Pain[1]”, shows how suffering and pain are two basic aspects of Christianity that come together. He explains that in the New Testament, suffering is usually mentioned together with the blessings of joy that come together with it. This joy comes from the hope that we have in Jesus, and “the joy of the Lord” becomes our strength to bear the crosses that we carry in our lives.

It is normal and expected for Christians to experience suffering in life, but it is cause for concern when Christians do not have the joy of the Lord.

Is joy absent in your daily journey of faith? If so, take time to ask God why this is so and take a fresh look into His Word and meditate on His call for us to have joy.

Let’s ponder on this quote by E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India, “Don’t bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens – justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism – take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into testimony.”


Sister Cherlyn Oh

[1] Ajith Fernando, The Call to Joy and Pain (Illinois: Crossway Books, 2007)