5 Reasons the Bible Says Believers Can Rejoice in Suffering
Life can throw painful, devastating things at us. Jesus told us, “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). It’s not optional and is to be expected.
The problem isn’t just that the New Testament says we’ll suffer; it says we should have joy and rejoicing in suffering! Where is that coming from?! Suffering, by its very nature, means you are suffering! Suffering is not fun. It does not create joy. How can the Bible say to rejoice in suffering?
Some Christians take this to mean that we repeat happy verses in our heads. Mind over matter. The power of positive thinking. Keep repeating the happy mantras and grin and bear it.
Others think that we rejoice in suffering because God will take it away. If we rub God the right way He will grant us three wishes and remove our pain. We rejoice because if I do faith right, God will stop the suffering.
The Bible does not say these approaches lead to joy in suffering. The Bible actually gives us reasons, not happy thoughts or wishful thinking, but reasons to rejoice in suffering.
- Rejoice because no suffering will cancel your salvation.
1 Peter 1:5-6 says even while we suffer now, we can rejoice because the power of God will keep the believer all the way until salvation is experienced in full. We will be with God. We will have glorified bodies. We will dwell in righteousness. No amount of suffering here can eliminate the glory of there! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, not tribulation, or distress, or nakedness, famine, nakedness, peril or sword (Romans 8:35). Nothing can stop the full deliverance promised to us through the Gospel. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven!
- Trials confirm and purify your faith.
People often wonder why bad things happen. They happen because we live in a fallen world. Can’t a good, all-powerful God stop bad things? Yes, but the Bible says God actually uses the bad things to strengthen our faith. Tribulation works patience, experience and hope (Romans 5:3-5). The trying of our faith works patience, which works to make us spiritually mature (James 1:3-4). Times of pain and suffering are usually the times that grow us the most.
- Suffering helps us know Christ.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is described by Isaiah as being the suffering servant (Isaiah 52-53). In Philippians, Paul wants to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10). Peter says we should rejoice in suffering because you will be a “partaker in the suffering of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13). Do you want to know Christ and grow in Him? Then suffering is on the menu!
- The Spirit of God will minister to you.
There is a special blessing for those who specifically suffer because of Jesus Christ, persecution given because of your stand with Him. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). The idea seems to be that the Spirit will give you rest; there will be spiritual refreshing. Would you like to have the Spirit of God rest upon you? Then suffer for His name.
- When we are weak, Christ’s power works through us.
If you were always strong, always able to handle everything, you’d never need God. Notice how many times in the Bible God uses the weak to confound the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). Gideon had his army whittled down to a couple hundred soldiers and yet wipes out the huge enemy arrayed against him. Israel, who had no weapons, wipes out the entire Egyptian army. The walls of Jericho get knocked over by marching! God loves using the weak to show His power. If you accomplish things because you can already do those things, you get the credit. Do you want God’s power to work through you? Then be weak! Something we can all do! Paul says, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Whether you’re a believer or not, you’re going to suffer (Romans 8:22-23). The unbeliever has no hope, they have no assured deliverance. Suffering crushes people who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ. But for the believer, no matter what happens, we rejoice because our salvation is locked up for us. Because our faith will grow stronger. Because we’ll know Christ better. Because God’s Spirit will give us refreshment. Because Christ’s power will work through our weakness.
These are real reasons to rejoice in suffering. This is not grin and bear it stoicism or happy thoughts that deny reality. Suffering really hurts. Just as real as the pain though, are the promises available through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray for a glimpse of eternity, a priority shifting, hope giving confidence in your eternal home with your Savior, Jesus Christ.
Pray for the ability to weep with those who weep, to be understanding and compassionate as our Savior is toward us.
Pray for learning and growth through all the things we face in life.
Pray for a deeper knowledge of who Christ is and how great His love is.