Jesus Himself gives us the supreme model of joy in the midst of life’s dark pain. There was probably no greater source of pain in the ancient world than cruciﬁxion on a Roman cross, but we read in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Knowing that His suffering would result in great joy, Jesus looked toward His future with the Father as He endured the excruciating pain of death on the cross.
As one Bible commentator notes, “Despite the misunderstanding, the rejection, the hatred, the pain He endured from men while incarnate among them, the Lord never lost His joy in the relationship He had with His Father. And that joy He gives to each of His followers.” The same wondrous joy that Jesus experienced in His darkest hours is yours and mine today. Won’t you look to God for that joy? Let it help you endure your dark and pain-ﬁlled days.
Now, my friend, what can you and I do to cultivate this fruit of joy in the Lord in our daily walk with God?
Offer the sacriﬁce of praise to God continually—even when you don’t feel like it (Hebrews 13:15). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, this act of thanksgiving transforms our pain into praise.
“Consider it all joy… when you encounter various trials,” writes James (1:2). As I said earlier, let the very hindrances to joy become the soil out of which joy blossoms! That happens when we let life’s hard times drive us nearer to the Lord, the only Source of genuine joy and real hope.
Give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Whatever is happening—good or bad—give thanks to God for His sovereignty, His perfect timing, His perfect plan, and His unconditional love.
Bless the Lord at all times (Psalm 34:1). Offer unceasingly the sacriﬁce of praise (Hebrews 13:15). The Spirit can—and will—use your praise to touch you with God’s joy.
Focus on the reality of God’s promises. Every time you open your Bible, read with a marker in hand and look for powerful promises that can change your outlook to one of joy. Go a step further and memorize those verses you like best and meditate on them.
Look up. Shift your eyes and your hopes away from your suffering and focus instead on the splendor of God (Psalm 121:1-2).
Obey God’s command to be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16). As author Jerry Bridges notes, “We are not to sit around waiting for our circumstances to make us joyful. We are commanded to be joyful always… we should continually be growing in joy.”
Go to God to be ﬁlled with His joy whenever you need it.
A Prayer to Pray:
Father, my heart overflows with the love and blessings You’ve given me. Even in the midst of my trials and sorrow I can be joyful in my heart because I know You are in charge. Amen.
If you are facing a difficult or painful situation, you are not alone. Draw on God’s Word and the experience of others in, Finding God’s Path Through Your Trials by Elizabeth George.