They go together: jelly and peanut butter; Robin and Batman; bows and arrows; suffering and joy. Suffering and joy? To me, joy and suffering seem mutually exclusive – I have one or the other – never both at once. Yet, joy is the response to suffering which God consistently encourages in His Word. Fortunately, as we’ll see, He provides the ability to respond with joy as well.
During my suffering under Stage IV metastatic melanoma, joy was rare. So, I admit, Bible verses which link joy with suffering annoyed me at times – and they’re hard to avoid:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. – James 1:2
And not only this, but we also rejoice in our tribulations… – Romans 5:3
Why was I annoyed? I could not figure out how to manufacture such joy while feeling so beat up. Yet amazingly, periods of breakthrough came when I quit trying and began leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit to produce joy in me. We are weak – He is strong.
You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 1:6
As this verse points out, Jesus not only modeled joy, He provides His supernatural joy by the power of the Holy Spirit (see also John 15:11). His type of joy is transcendent and not dependent on feelings, circumstances or medical prognoses. He’s never worried or bothered or upset.
But don’t mistake joy for giddiness or even happiness. It is deep confidence in a God Who is in absolute control and incredibly good. This is far from natural to humans in the midst of suffering – it’s supernatural.
Lord, teach us how to let go and rest with Your supernatural joy.