Spiritual Formation

Joy in Suffering

“If we endure all things patiently and with gladness, thinking on the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, and bearing all for the love of Him: herein is perfect joy." - Francis Assisi by Captain Stephanie Pavlakis

She was a mom of four diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is hard for everyone. But what made this even harder was that it wasn’t the first time she had battled cancer and it wasn’t the first time cancer had touched their family. On top of that, her church was struggling. Hidden sins, pride and hurtful words were weaving their way through the lives of the church members. It seemed that she couldn’t catch a break. And yet she was beautiful.

Whereas any normal person would have been bitter, depressed or tempted to quit, she quietly did her treatments, rested, loved her family, and cared for others when she could. When she was able to show up, she would glow from the inside out. Though tired and weary, anyone who encountered her even for a moment knew just how deeply she loved the Lord and loved them. Even in her own struggles, she asked others how they were doing and listened to worries with compassion and grace. They might have lamented and spoken poorly of others, but she continued to represent Christ in the very best ways, even exuding joy.

In a world that favors workaholism, perfection and unrealistic expectations, those things are not the takeaway from this story. In fact, it’s the opposite. She was able to take the time and space she needed to seek treatment, rest, and eventually, conquer cancer. The amazing thing is that even during the battle, she didn’t lose her spirit of joy. It wasn’t happiness. No one could be happy in a situation like that. Instead, it was a deeper sense of peace knowing that whatever the outcome was, it would be good. Should she recover, she would have an incredible testimony; more years of raising her children and caring for her people. Should she not recover, she would spend eternity with Jesus Christ knowing her family and her people would be well cared for. Like Paul’s attitude in Philippians 1:18-26, whatever the outcome, there would be joy.

If we expect to carry this type of joy simply by trying to be happy, we will be disappointed. This type of supernatural joy only comes by knowing Jesus Christ and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. It only comes from knowing whose we are and where we’re going. It comes from having a greater God perspective through which we view our own suffering; not minimizing our trials, but having an understanding of the God who cares for us and our place within that deep love. When we come to know the Lord in this way, seeing the world through His eyes and relying on the Holy Spirit, we’ll find that the joy that comes with it is boundless.

Finding JOY:

  • Can you think of a person who was joyful even in their suffering? What stood out to you about them?
  • Take time to study Philippians 1. What can you learn about Paul’s relationship with joy?

Supporting Scripture: 

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Romans 12:12
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