Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials.

All joy? Who talks like that? We can get so used to hearing statements like this one in the Bible that they wash over us without our really noticing how strange they are. Blessed are you, Jesus tells us, if you are poor or hungry (see Luke 6:20, 21). St. Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). He even “boasts” about a string of pains, persecutions, and plain bad luck (11:21-30).

These paradoxical statements turn our normal way of thinking, feeling, and reacting on its head. And the truth is, when you meet Jesus and believe in him, he does turn your life upside down! This happens in all kinds of ways, but one of the most important is how we view suffering.

From a “normal” perspective, suffering is pointless and something to be avoided at all costs. But as Christians, we see meaning in suffering because Jesus suffered and died for us to save us from sin and death. Through his suffering, he redeemed the world. So when we join our suffering to Jesus’ suffering on the cross, in some mysterious way, we are joining in his work of redemption.

The Lord also can use our suffering to help us grow in holiness. St. James says that “the testing of your faith produces perseverance . . . so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:3-4). Suffering provides many opportunities to persevere in turning to the Lord and asking for his help. As we spend time with him, he works in us, giving us strength and grace and building up our trust in him.

On the cross, Jesus conquered sin and death. As you take up your crosses and walk with him, he will lead you to the resurrection. Your hardships don’t have to ruin your joy; they can be the path to ultimate unending joy with God. A paradox? Yes. But one you can put your faith in every time you face a trial.

“Jesus, please rescue me from this trial. But as long as it is mine to bear, I unite it to your cross. I trust that you will use it for my ultimate good.”

James 1:1-11
Psalm 119:67-68, 71-72, 75-76
Mark 8:11-13


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