In Philippians 3:8-11, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
Our suffering has the potential to bring us into fellowship with Christ by joining us to Him in His sufferings. Therefore, we can experience the joy that comes from being raised from our spiritual deadness.
In Romans 8:18, the apostle wrote, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
He's saying the weight of our sorrow may be significant, but it doesn't compare to the weight of the glory of Christ that is revealed to us. As we focus on Jesus and His suffering, we can submit to God's discipline in our life, which produces the fruit of righteousness. The more we read, study, believe, and obey His Word, the deeper our relationship with Christ will grow. And as our relationship with Him grows, the more of His glory will be revealed to us.
Still, we may wonder why we must experience such heartache and sorrow. To more fully understand the answer, we must diligently study the Scriptures.
To become more Christlike, we must look to our Savior's example. Even though He was sinless, Jesus suffered greatly, more greatly than we can comprehend.
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul tells us that suffering leads to perseverance, proven character, and hope. James 1 is a similar passage, instructing us to count our trials as joy, knowing this is how we become more like Christ.
Not only does suffering pave the way for us to become more like Jesus, it enables us to set an example for unbelievers. They couldn't relate to us if our lives were perfect and trouble-free. Plus, we wouldn't be able to relate to them, nor would we have empathy and compassion for them.
In John 12:24, Jesus says, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
When we go through sorrow, God comforts us, so that we're able to comfort others going through grief and pain (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Jesus instructs us to cling to Him and to His Word. If we do, when sorrow and grief come, we can experience hope, comfort, and joy in the midst of our circumstances. We all experience sorrow, but Jesus turns it into something glorious in the life of the believer.
What caused the disciples' confusion when Jesus said He was going to suffer and die? When He said He would be leaving them? Why couldn't they understand what He was saying? Sorrow played a key role. So, what was the cause of their joy? Understanding.
What happened when Jesus first appeared to the disciples after He rose from the dead? They were overjoyed to see Him, but they were still confused.
Jesus told them, in Luke 24:25-27, "'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."
When their spiritual eyes were opened, their sorrow turned to joy. Their confusion turned to understanding. But it doesn't end there.
In John 16:12, Jesus says, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."
When the Holy Spirit came, He became their divine guide. He taught them more and more of who Jesus was. He does the same in the lives of 21st century believers. The more we read God's Word, the more the Spirit reveals Jesus's glory to us.
Still, this may result in sorrow, when we see our sinfulness compared to Christ's holiness. We realize afresh that we are not worthy of His mercy and grace. Still, we rejoice in His love and take comfort in it. Our sorrow turns to joy.
When He comes for us—or we enter His presence through death—every trace of sorrow will be wiped away and we will experience unfathomable joy for all eternity.
The joy of the world is temporary. The joy of the Lord is everlasting.
What an awesome truth!