What does it mean to rejoice in suffering?
Currently, I am reading Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller. This passage below on what it really means to rejoice in suffering, while a little long, is too good not to share.
Are you a Christian who is suffering? Stop pretending that suffering is “ok” and that rejoicing in suffering means you have to be cheerful day in and day out when horrible things are happening. Stop pretending that stoicism, not feeling anything, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is the answer. This passage below shows how mourning and joy intermingle when we look to God as we are walking through suffering.
“To “rejoice” in God means to dwell on and remind ourselves of who God is, who we are, and what he has done for us. Sometimes our emotions respond and follow when we do this, and sometimes they do not. But therefore we must not define rejoicing as something that precludes feelings of grief, or doubt, weakness, and pain. Rejoicing in suffering happens within sorrow.
Here is how it works. The grief and sorrow drive you more into God. It is just as when it gets colder outside, the temperature kicks the furnace higher through the thermostat. Similarly, the sorrow and the grief drive you into God and show you the resources you never had. Yes, feel the grief. There is a tendency for us to say, “I am afraid of the grief, I am afraid of the sorrow. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to rejoice in the Lord.” But look at Jesus. He was perfect, right? And yet he goes around crying all the time. He is always weeping, a man of sorrow. Do you know why? Because he is perfect. Because when you are not all absorbed in yourself you can feel the sadness of the world (bold my own). And therefore, what you actually have is that the joy of the Lord happens inside the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the uncontrollable weeping. The weeping drives you into the joy, it enhances the joy, and then the joy enables you to actually feel your grief without its sinking you. In other words, you are finally emotionally healthy.”