Sometimes suffering is a test. As Christians, we’re called to maintain an attitude of love, joy and peace in all circumstances. So suffering becomes a test of whether we can be joyful even when things don’t go our way.
Most ordinary people long for a life full of blessings, free from suffering. But what many don’t realize is that what they want is love, joy and peace, and not a blessed life per se. What I mean is that you can have a blessed life and still be unhappy. If you’re neurotic, you can have a blessed life and constantly worry that it’s too good to be true, that your blessings will be destroyed at any time, so your worry makes you miserable even though you have a blessed life. But if the opposite happens, if you’re suffering but you don’t let it upset you, you maintain your joy even in adversity, then even when you are not blessed you are happy, then the fact that you have trials doesn’t bother you.
When you can overcome obstacles with your positive attitude, that is an extremely empowering thing. When you can be happy despite trials, that gives you a great sense of power and freedom. You stop being afraid of bad circumstances, you’re not worried about obstacles because you know they can’t steal your joy. So you face life with great courage and confidence. You’re not afraid of what tomorrow brings, because good or bad, you’ll still be happy.
So sometimes God permits suffering to test us, to give us this courage that comes from unconditional joy.
Also, when you fully grasp this truth, you realize it is better to have a life that has both blessings and obstacles, rather than a life that is pain-free and full of blessings. That’s because the unconditional joy that can only be developed in the face of suffering gives us courage and the freedom to be happy no matter what happens.
Suffering then becomes a blessing, because it shows us how strong our joy is – our joy is so strong it cannot be destroyed by suffering, our joy is unconditional as it is not dependent on blessings. Even when we suffer, we are happy, so everything is ok. Because what we really want is joy, not blessings. We only want blessings because they bring us joy, but if we can be happy even when we don’t have the blessings, then that is a great gift, that is great freedom, we are no longer dependent on good circumstance for our joy. So that gives us freedom and courage and a deeper appreciation of the greatness of God – he empowers us to be joyful even in suffering.
Praise be to God – who works all things out for our good!