Sometimes we shy away from growing spiritually because we know that growth is often accompanied by pain. We want to run from our troubles rather than press forward. But the Bible tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).
"Even when it seems God is silent, He is yet working things out for your good and His glory."
Joy does not mean that we will not experience pain, sadness, or frustration when everything seems to go wrong. But unlike happiness, we can find joy in the midst of our suffering.
Paul was no stranger to experiencing hardships. He endured harsh criticism, prison, and near-death situations. He was not always happy, but he found the secret to maintaining his joy: he remained focused on Christ instead of his circumstances. After speaking in Jerusalem and causing so much chaos that the Roman commander had to house him in the barracks for his protection, the Lord personally came and stood by Paul and said to him, "Take courage!" (Acts 23:11).
If you're going through a hard time, if you are tempted to give up on God, if you are wondering if your rope is about to break, if you are questioning whether God has forgotten you, remember that God's words to Paul are meant for you, too.
Even when it seems God is silent, He is yet working things out for your good and His glory. God is the master of your circumstances, and He's using all of them to weave His purpose in your life, even now.
When Paul trusted the sovereign hand of God, he learned to be content in the ups and downs, in the abundance and the lack, in sickness and in health, in the courts of kings and in the dungeons and prisons. Whatever God called Paul to do -- whether speaking with the powerful or the poor -- Paul knew that God would equip him for his tasks. And his Christ-centered focus brought joy and contentment to his life.
What hardship are you enduring right now? Look up; the God of all creation loves you and is working all things for your good and His glory. Let the joy of that knowledge fill your heart with praise and peace.
Prayer: Lord, may I find comfort in You and Your sovereignty as You place me in situations that test and grow my faith. By Your Spirit, lift my eyes to You, the source of all joy. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13).