“Now I rejoice in my sufferings…” (Colossians 1:24)
Rejoicing and suffering. Two words that seem to be contradictory, and especially when mentioned simultaneously. But the Christian life is not without both. In fact, a life without joy and a life without suffering is no Christian life at all.
To the stumbling saints, the redeemed children of God, the ones who are feeling less and less at home. You are not alone. We are sojourners together. I’m with you. The church is with you. For there are many a times when I say with the Psalmist, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?”
So, how can you be filled with joy in your suffering? It doesn’t come from circumstances.
It comes from the historical fact that Jesus has risen from the grave, and because of His victory, we have hope. Not a hope as the world defines it, but a hope that is sure and certain.
Our hope is in the great exchange, Jesus satisfying the full wrath and punishment for our sin, and the righteousness of Christ counted on our behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Our hope is in the promise of God that when He says we will never be cast out, He means it. And in the promise that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. (John 6:37, Romans 8:39)
So in a world that says you cannot be certain about anything, in a world that denies the truth about God, in a world that glorifies sin and condemns righteousness, and in a world that doesn’t have an answer for suffering, we can have hope.
We will endure because our God will hold us fast. And as we endure with joy in our suffering, the world will see a hope that is not normal, and can only be explained by the good news they are in desperate need of hearing and believing.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)