Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. –James 5:13
Walking through Disneyland, I knew I was in for a great day. How could it not be? I was in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” However, as I looked around at this happy place, one had to wonder. Amidst this giant playground was a lost child, a man nursing a painful sunburn, a little one who had fallen and skinned her knee and a crying baby. As I took this all in, I couldn’t help but think: even in the “Happiest Place on Earth”, there is still suffering.
Isn’t life like that? For some, our happiest place is with our family and friends, or on a walk on the beach. Daily, we cannot escape suffering no matter how hard we try. As much as we want to be, Christians are not exempt. When the Bible talks about suffering, it is considered a common human condition. Sometimes suffering is used for correcting, sometimes it is used for God’s glory, sometimes it is used to build our character and sometimes one person suffers for another’s benefit. Yet, there are times when we really don’t understand why we or others suffer. Like Job, we seek to trust God and endure.
God wants us to experience great joy, I believe that wholeheartedly. On the flip side, suffering is a part of the human condition. How can these two things exist hand-in-hand? Since everyone suffers, the important question becomes, how do we respond to suffering when we experience it? In this area, there is a lot to learn from Job. He didn’t try to get in God’s way, he didn’t try to explain God or defend Him, he directed his friends and neighbors back to God. Job realized something very important. He had to “let go and let God.” Job understood that he was not in control and that God was.
Perhaps you are in a season of hurt right now, a season of suffering. In this moment, like Job, it may not be clear why you are suffering. Your role in this season is to rediscover and reach out to the Lord, knowing that He will help you through this trial with His strength. In this way, at the end of the day, you will be able to rejoice in Who God is — even in your time of suffering.
1. James 5:13 says we should rejoice and give praise during the good times and the bad. Why is it sometimes hard to praise the Lord in either of these situations?
2. Think back to a time when you suffered. How did God show Himself to you in a new way during that time?
Psalm 20; Romans 8:18-21; Philippians 1:27-30