3 Keys to Finding Joy in Suffering

Finding joy in suffering is possible if you know the right place to look.

I felt heavy that day. My feet were like cement blocks as I walked around the house. Life had been really hard for a terribly long season and I was exhausted. I was ready to call it quits for the day. For the week. I was just done. Life as a single mom had become more than I could handle. 

I didn’t know how I was going to make it one more meal, one more load of laundry, teach one more homeschool lesson, or kiss one more boo-boo. I was just overwhelmed. I had prayed, fasted, tithed, and all these things that I felt like God had been calling me to do. 

Nothing in my life was getting any better. They were getting progressively worse. I was already at the end of my rope and I knew that I could not take anything else. Have you ever been in that place where things are as bad as you ever imagined they could be, and then they get worse? 

Today, let’s take a look at how we can learn to have joy in times of suffering.

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Joy in the middle of suffering seems a little bit like an oxymoron like those two things just don’t go together. I know learning to be joyful when life gets hard seems like an impossible task. But when I read the story of Nehemiah, I remember being struck by that line where he says the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I remember saying,  “Lord, that doesn’t make any sense to me.” I knew I was not going to be able to do this. But I began to meditate on that verse and dig deep into scripture to see what in the world God wanted me to understand about the fact that the joy of the Lord is my strength in hard times. 

I realized that in those moments where you just feel like you have nothing left and you can’t do one more thing, it’s going to take more than you feel that you have to give. It’s in those moments you have to lean into God’s strength and spirit because you have nothing left. 

Your joy in the Lord is knowing that he is there with you and that when you are weak, then he gets to show up and be strong in your life. Those are some moments where he gets to show you how much he loves you, and how much he is there for you. 

You really get to see his glory and his power displayed in your life in moments when you need it most but might be too tired to kind of look for it. I want to start our conversation off today by looking at three things that have helped me to find my joy in the Lord and to keep it during the most difficult seasons of life. 

Finding Joy in Suffering Tip #1: Get to Know God

The first thing is taking the time to get to know God. Are you surprised to hear me say that? I talk about this all the time. I mean, my whole business is Women Finding God, so of course, I am really big on taking the time to get to know God. 

I believe that God often will use what’s going on in your life to get your attention. I don’t mean that he’s sending the hard times or sending the stress. But in those moments I do believe that he wants to get your attention because he wants to draw you closer during those times. 

You have to take that as an opportunity to sit with him and get to know who he is.  I don’t know about you, but I have gone into trials and into situations with this preconceived notion of who God is and what he is going to do. And I was completely wrong. 

Learning to actually get to know God, who he says he is, and talk to him about what that means for me and my situation has been pivotal in learning to have some kind of joy when nothing in my life makes any sense. 

This often looks like spending more time with God reading your Bible and praying more. Things that you naturally want to do when things get hard. When you desperately need answers from God you spend more time talking to him.

You want to be in his presence more and dig into your word more because you’re looking for encouragement, guidance, wisdom, and discernment. That’s great because when you spend time getting to know who God is, you can put everything that’s going on in your life into its proper perspective.

You begin to look at it through the lens of who God is and what God can do, instead of looking at it through what you can do, which is usually nothing. 

Finding Joy in Suffering Tip #2: Get to Know Scripture

The second thing that’s going to help you find joy in suffering is to get to know scripture. Listen, I’m going to be 100% honest with you, real talk. In my deepest, darkest moments, picking up my Bible is the last thing that I usually want to do. 

On good days, sometimes getting to that time in the word is hard because I’ve got the kids and work and all these other things that are vying for my attention. You have to keep in mind what your tendency is.  

When life is hard you may feel like the last thing that you want to do is be your bible or talk to God. If that’s your experience that’s how you feel. It’s okay. That’s true. But also know that it is probably the time when you need to dig in the most. 

The more that you spend time in God’s word, the less hold Satan has on you. The truth is what sets you free, and the truth is always found in the word of God. It’s going to tell you the truth about yourself, the truth about God, and the truth about your situation. 

It’s where you’re going to find your hope and encouragement. So do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are spending time in the word, even when it’s the last thing that you want to do. 

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Finding Joy in Suffering Tip #3: Find Community

The third thing that has helped me find joy during times of suffering is finding community. Yes, this is coming from the biggest introvert ever, but finding community allows you to know that you’re not alone.

I have such an amazing community right now. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have our struggles and our life journeys. We’re all going through something hard but we’re able to look at each other and know that we’re not the only person walking through hard things right now. 

My sister is walking through this hard thing and this other sister is walking through this hard thing. I’m not an island. I’m not completely isolated. I’m not forgotten. Isolation is never a good thing when you’re going through something hard. 

God created man humans to be in fellowship with each other. That’s why he didn’t leave Adam in the garden by himself with just the animals. It wasn’t good for him to be alone and it’s not good for you to be alone. 

You’ve got to have community in place because it’s going to be a great support system and source of encouragement for you. They can lift you up in prayer when you don’t have the energy or the motivation to pray for yourself. 

They can be praying for you when you need somebody to take care of your kids for a moment so that you can take a nap or you can get something done. That’s where your community comes in.

This Christmas I bought a lot of stuff for my little guys to play with outside and I got most of it put together. But I purchased a mud kitchen that had 90 million thousand pieces and I could not do it. Do you know what happened? 

Someone in my church, my community, offered to put it together for me. Three days after I gave it to them it was done. My kids were able to play with it after it was sitting in pieces for two months because I couldn’t get to it. 

That is the power of community. Being able to call somebody up who understands what you’re going through, who loves you, who knows you, and who can step in and give you whatever support that you need during that time is so key to being able to rest and then find joy. 

5 Things to Remember When Searching for Joy in Suffering

If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know that from the time that I was teeny tiny, I struggled with fear. Not like being afraid of the boogeyman in the closet, but real crippling fear. There were many nights that I would have nightmares or I would wake up screaming. 

I wasn’t able to sleep, and this went on well into my adulthood. Even after I had kids, I was plagued by fear. When I was younger, my mom got a small black bible, opened it to the 23rd Psalm, and stuck it under my pillow. I slept on top of the 23rd Psalm until I left for college. 

When I got older, I was still finding comfort in that Psalm but I began to look into other scriptures and I landed on Isaiah 41-10: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” NLT 

I remember reading that in my Bible and I just stopped because it was like God was speaking directly to me and it was exactly what I needed in that moment. I have that verse circled and dated in my bible. Anytime that I found myself feeling afraid, I would just recite that verse to myself over and over, and over and over again. 

What I learned as I dug into this is that there are some comforting promises in this one sentence. There are so many good nuggets and so many good promises that are yours and mine when we’re walking through hard times and I want to share those with you today. 

God is With You

The first one is that God is with you. The verse starts by saying don’t be afraid. Why? Because God is with you. As I said before, it’s so tempting to feel like you’re all alone or that God has forgotten all about you when things are hard. 

When you look in scripture you can see that that’s not true. God is always with you. Emmanuel, God with us. It’s the whole reason that Jesus came down to earth. He is with you and he never leaves you to suffer or walk through hard times alone. 

God is Yours

The second thing is that God is yours. He’s not some stranger to his kids. He is yours, he is mine, he is ours. Think about your parents or your closest friends. They know you, you belong to them, and they belong to you. 

You are a family, you are a community, and that’s how it functions. Listen, God knows you too. He created you. He knows the amount of hair on your head, he knows the number of your days here on this earth, and he invites you to get to know him too. 

He promises in scripture to draw close to you when you draw closer to him.  He loves you, he wants to be there, and he wants to help you through your trials. Remember that God is yours. You can go to him at any time with anything, no matter what it is. 

Don’t fall into this trap of thinking that you can’t talk to God about this because it’s too ugly or because it’s going to come out rude or nasty. Forget all of that. He already knows. Be honest, raw, and vulnerable with him, and let Him heal those spots in your heart. 

Let him love on you, let him encourage you and if there’s something that’s not right, he’ll sort that out in your time with him. 

God will Give You Strength

The third thing is that God is going to give you strength. I shared at the beginning of the podcast, a time when I had no strength. I didn’t feel like I could go on. But we see in this verse where it says I will strengthen you. 

That’s exactly what I needed on those days where I couldn’t even get out of bed because life was just too stressful. Those are the moments when God gets to show off and I get to see what he is capable of. 

When I can’t do anything and don’t understand anything. God says great lean on me, trust me and rest in me. Let me show you what I have for you, let me give you support, let me show you how I’m working things out for your good. 

This is so awesome because, as a recovering control freak, I tend to get in God’s way. In those moments when I have no strength left and can’t do anything, it means that I don’t get in the way and I don’t mess things up.

God will Help You

The next promise is that God will help you. “I will strengthen you and I will help you.” I remember feeling isolated and alone during a time and it seemed like no matter who I reached out to for help nobody answered. 

I remember making at least 100 phone calls and knocking on doors, just begging for somebody, anybody, to listen to me, to point me in the direction of help or help me. I felt like I kept getting the door slammed in my face or the phone like slammed down in my ear and I was so tempted to just throw in the towel and give up. 

I had to remind myself that God promised to help me. When it seems like no one is willing or even able to help, always go back to that. Go back to the fact that God has promised to help you. All you have to do is ask. 

All you have to do is say, “God, I need help. I don’t know what to do. Nothing is working and nobody can help me. But I know that you are sovereign and you are in control and I need your help.” 

Even in that season when everybody kept slamming doors in my face, eventually, when I remembered to just cry out to God for help, there was an open door and it was exactly what I needed for my situation. 

God will Protect and Sustain you

This last promise is right at the end. God says, “I will hold you up in my victorious right hand.” I can’t get into all of the symbolism and all the meaning here, but just know that when scripture talks about God’s right hand that is a sacred, cherished, blessed spot to be. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. 

I love this image of being held in His hands because God says, “Listen, I’m going to keep you. I’m going to hold onto you. I’m going to give you everything that you need to keep going.” I love that image of a father holding his child in his hands. 

I was a super preemie when I was born. I was, I think, three months early. I was barely three pounds and I have a picture of my dad holding me. I’m so teeny, tiny, I literally fit in the palm of his hands. My little feet barely reached his wrist. 

The image that comes to mind when I read this part of the verse is that you are so safe, secure, protected, and loved in God’s hands. You don’t need to worry about anything. When the storms come, God is cupping His hands around you, covering you and keeping you safe. 

He is truly your shelter when things get difficult. I want you to hold on to these promises, hold on to these truths that we find in the scripture.  Remember and know that it is possible to find joy even in the hardest seasons of your life. 

If you are currently in a season where you feel worried, anxious, and can’t seem to find that joy that we talked about I invite you to come and work with me as your mindset coach. This is exactly what I love doing. 

I love helping you understand your emotions, figure out what your thoughts are, and then walking you through my coaching tool, the Peace Field Mind Map™, to show you how to change those thoughts, change those emotions, so that you can have new beliefs and have peace of mind as you’re walking through hard times. 

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