Life Hurts!  People need real truth for real life in their real pain…

Finding Joy begins with an Eternal Perspective

According to 1 Corinth. 15:19, JOY is connected with life and MISERY with death.  Am I alive?  Are you? Some Christians would pretend to disagree with Paul here.  So does Christ offer ‘good things’ in life? …make simply life ‘better’? Both! But if there were no hope beyond the casket – there’s no hope before!

We search incessantly for the reasons behind the tragedy… we ask “WHY?”  This might give joy, might not.  Knowing the reason is NOT ‘Finding Joy.’ Joy is not just a fact, it is a person.  Phil 4:7  promises the peace that passes understanding … beyond facts, knowledge, and reason!  Sometimes we question the KIND of suffering.  We wonder if it is because temptation, trials, testings… Yes – all!  We also question if the pain we feel is a sort of PUNISHMENT.  Did we deserve it, need it, etc.?  In addition, we question the SOURCE.  Does it come from God or Satan?  The answer (although it doesn’t change much) is that they both use same ‘pawns‘ – yet desire different goals, ends… bitter / better;  hurting / helping.

It’s important to know that, for the Christian, pain is “with” Christ & “for” Christ.  There are three great examples:
A. PAUL – thorn in flesh / messenger of Satan – 2 Cor 12:7  (initiated by Satan, allowed & used by God)
B. JOB – lost business, family, health – Job 2:6-7  (authored by Satan, allowed by God)
C. JESUS – enduring the torments of the cross – Heb. 12:3-7, 11 (coming from sin/sinners (not His), initiated by God himself)

Finding Joy requires me to Choose Suffering:

I know it sounds crazy to say, but finding joy really begins with a conscious decision to ACCEPT it – not to run!  (Phil. 3:8, 10)  This is the equivalent to ‘sitting still’ while the doctor sticks you with a needle or injects you with a treatment.  Temporary pain for lasting results.  You don’t have to chase it, it will find you!  I realize that it’s totally unnatural to choose to suffer when it could be avoided (it’s un-American!)  We move to safer cities, buy air conditioners, take aspirin, get out of rain… We even purify our water…

Finding Joy requires that I Enjoy what God Enjoys…

Suffering Preaches the GOSPEL!
Colossians 1:24 tells us that pain finishes / completes Christ’s sufferings – but they are not lacking / deficient (power, worth…), are they?  Specifically, our suffering extends Christ’s sufferings to this generation.

“God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of His people.”

Epaphroditus is a great example; he didn’t work himself into fatigue & sickness (Phil 2:30), God’s work was that he be sick to further the gospel through his suffering.  In 2 Cor 4:10-12, Paul speaks of bearing about the death of Christ – to reveal Christ’s life.  In Phil. 1:12, 18, he understood all that had happened to him was for the furtherance of the gospel.  Even if Paul wasn’t excited about a jail cell, He could get happy!

Suffering Reveals God’s GLORY! 
According to 1 Peter 4:13, God desires his glory to be known in every place/time through my pain.  What is chief end of man? to glorify God… and how can I glorify Him? through pain!

Suffering Matures Me & Helps Me GROW!
Pain weans me off of my self-reliance – confidence in flesh (2 Cor 1:8-9).  What a glorious end that difficulties might mature me while they fulfill God’s glory and extend the gospel too.

Suffering Opens the Door for Blessings (Luke 6:22-23)
There’s no other way to say it than: more suffering = more blessing! [You may say, “Hey God, stop blessing me so much!” But you haven’t seen the receipt of what’s been put in your name!!]  PAY NOW  –  PLAY LATER!!!

Key Bible Passages: 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:1-2, 12-14