3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
How can we rejoice in the battle? How is it possible to not just endure but thrive when our hearts and bodies are broken, when our souls are weary and there seems to be no way out?
By understanding the meta of what is really going on.
The problem with suffering, I think, is when we feel hopeless and helpless in it. We also, in our human selves, focus on the suffering. Things really do hurt, disease really does make us sick, we really get lonely or really struggle.
But when we realize that the pain is not the point, but that there is a higher battle going on, more at stake than what we feel today, when we see suffering as a thing to be embraced because it brings us closer to the Lord and drives out the worst parts of us, the medicine of suffering goes down a lot easier.
It is sort of like this: If you were given a cocktail that tasted VILE, I mean really horribly bitter and sour and astringent, you would question why I gave it to you. You would focus on the awful metallic/putrid flavor, how it coats the tongue, how you can’t get the scent from your nose. You would not want to drink it. There would seem to be no point to the suffering.
BUT if you were dying of cancer and this shot was actually a medicine that would cure you, you would gulp it easily and eagerly. Yes, it would still taste horrible, but you would remove the cup from your lips, lick it clean, close your eyes, and see if you could FEEL the health returning to you. You might even ask for another shot to make “extra sure” that you would be cured. The taste and smell would mean little to nothing because what is a moment of miserable taste compared to curing cancer that is eating you? It is nothing at all.
Our trials are not worthless, wanton suffering. Our trials cure the cancers of our souls. Our trials cleanse us and bring us closer to the Lord. When we can see that the point of our trials is not punishment, but discipline, not torture, but health, a temporary suffering for an eternal reward and steadfastness and hope in this life, then we can realize that the bitterness of them is temporary and fleeting, and we can rejoice in them.