How to Fight for Joy in the Middle of Suffering

By Dennis Tai via Creative Commons

By Dennis Tai via Creative Commons

Suffering is the stone we so often stumble over in this walk of faith.

Even atheists might believe if life really did work out the way the diamond-clad, TV preachers say.

When trials hover like fog, we all wonder and question, and we’re all searching for God in the haze. The blind days teach us how to lean into God, but it’s our own understanding we so often cling to.

I watch a lanky sophomore wrestle with the age-old question of why God allows suffering. A car accident shattered his world before an injury sidelined him for the season.

He stares at the floor in our youth room. His hands awkwardly rest on his knees.

“God has numbered each person’s days,” I tell him, knowing full well he needs more than theological answers.

I know his real question. It’s the same one I ask when dark days mount, “Does God see me and does He care?”

Then there’s a dear friend, barely to her third decade, when her husband breaths his last. She faces the hardship alongside her two chubby-cheeked boys and a baby on the way.

Some days our hurting hearts call out to the most wounded of all, and the only Scripture we feel like reading is Job’s story.

By Vanessa via Creative Commons

By Vanessa via Creative Commons

I see Kara Trippett’s cancer ripped body lean over a boy in front of a makeshift birthday cake, just a doughnut with sprinkles and candles. His arms reach around Kara’s neck as he beams a cheesy smile into the camera. See the photo here.

Tears erupt blurring my vision as I stare at Kara’s sick frame. When she plants that kiss on his neck does she know it’s the last birthday kiss she will give him? Maybe I’m crying for the boy, or for the God who set joy ablaze in Kara’s eyes, despite the pain.

God hasn’t left for a coffee break when we suffer. The Bible reveals a God who both sees and cares. He is the One who initiates positive from the worst situations.

God did this for the slave girl, Hagar, and her stunning revelation answers our question, “Does God see me in this mess?”

The first time Hagar nearly dies in the desert, she’s pregnant and on the run. The Angel of the Lord shocks her and changes not only the way she views God, but how she sees herself.

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13 NLT).

We collide with Hagar again in Scripture after she’s booted out of her home back to the desert. She has teenage Ishmael in tow while she calculates how long it takes to thirst to death.

Is one epiphany ever enough? Like us, Hagar needed a reminder of the truth that God sees her. So, the Angel of the Lord appears again, opening her eyes so she can see a well.

Friend God sees you too just as He saw Hagar.

If you’re desert-weary and have sand in your shoes and the red ache of sunburn to prove it, listen up.

God wants to open your eyes. He has a well to show you, a well of His amazing joy right where you sit. This well runs deep and can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

Romans 5:3 tells us to that we can rejoice in our suffering because of Jesus, because we have peace with Him through faith.

“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” (Romans 5:5 NLT).

This heartache and burden is only temporary, but the love of God lasts forever.

May you find the voice to rejoice today.




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