Rejoice! Be happy! Know that God is protecting you from a mistake in your life, a wrong turn, a distraction from what you are meant to do, from who you are meant to be.
Job 5:17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (KJV version)
In his Bible commentary, Matthew Henry explains,
Christianity teaches [our spirits] to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head and they become marks of our adoption.
More easily said than done? Absolutely, especially so when I allow my mind to wonder and think that God is far away, unaware, uncaring about my circumstances, or viciously and purposely afflicting me. How easily my mind wonders into that mental land of despair, disappointment, sadness and even anger!
How can the Scriptures guide me into rejoicing in difficult circumstances? what good thing could possibly be meant by doors slamming shut and afflictions being cast upon me? Doesn’t God love me and want to continuously bless me? why is He allowing such circumstances in my life and how are difficulties a reflection of His love for me?
Well, back to square 1, Nathalie. The Holy Scriptures talk about His love for me/us. I know he has plans for good and not for evil. yes, I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob absolutely loves me/you and desires to bless me/us… all the times. It’s hard to fathom and accept at times, especially when difficult circumstances set in, when pain emerges in our body, when a friend back stabs us, when a colleague slanders us, when our bank account is slowly getting drained out.
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
In the midst of all of this, when our eyes are fixated on the darkness of a situation, He asks us to rise above it and have faith in Him and be joyful. Why? perhaps it is because he is protecting us from a situation as I mention above. But it may also be because Christians are not exempt from suffering! By no means should we feel entitled to a free pass on a life without hurdles. Besides, I believe that there are many ‘benefits’ to suffering. Here are a few I can think of:
Patience – As the days go by, and circumstances are not yet lining up favorably, we have to persevere in our faith. This teaches us to become more patient, less nervous, more at peace within.
Greater knowledge of Him – When going though tough times, we can choose to get closer and walk with Him on our side. If we Jdo that, we end up knowing Him better, through meditating on Scriptures, prayer and worship.
Increased faith – Just like a rubber band can be stretched, so can our faith in God. As it stretches, it also gets stronger. The tests of faith at the beginning of my christian life were different from the ones I go through today.
More compassion towards others – Even our suffering is very personal, it allows God to be our ‘balm of Gilead’, ministering to our brokenness and healing our hearts. As we are touched deep within, we are transformed and changed. This makes us more aware and in tune with the suffering of others, and more attentive to other people’s needs.
Romans 5: 3-5 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”