Jesus was familiar with suffering. The prophet Isaiah foretold the trials Christ would endure:
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Is 53:3)
And, on the eve of his crucifixion, he explained to His disciples that they would face similar trials:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
I often want to overlook the words in the middle of this passage: you will have tribulation. I hope for the peace Jesus promises, but in my accounting, I falsely believe that peace comes from a lack of suffering, not in the midst of it. Regardless of our expectations, suffering and trials always seems to come as a bit of a painful surprise. We yearn for smooth sailing and easy lives.
In the midst of trials, we experience sorrow and grief, just as Jesus did. However, suffering is not a roadblock to rejoicing. Joy and trials are not mutually exclusive entities. They are woven together in beautiful display of the Spirit’s power in the life of a Christian. In the hope of the gospel we find ourselves living lives that are ”sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
How can we experience this paradox of walking through trials with joy? I sat down with Christianity.com for a series of video interviews and the following one discusses, “How to Find Joy in the Midst of Trials”. For further reading, you may want to consider: Three Hopeful Truths in the Midst of Suffering.