Suffering. What do you think of when you hear that word? Some words that come to mind include pain, hardship, sorrow, and rejection. If these are what characterize suffering, how can we have joy during the Christmas season, or any time of the year?
Do we have our definition of joy wrong? For myself, I often find myself confusing happiness with joy, but for the follower of Christ we are commanded to "Rejoice always" (1 Thessalonians 5:16). How can we rejoice when we are suffering?
The answer lies in the events of Christmas. The reason Jesus came to earth as a baby on Christmas was to die in our place, to cleanse us from our sins, so that one day we can live with God forever in a place with no pain, suffering, or sorrow anymore! As Revelation 21:4 beautifully states: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
This is the reason that we can have joy, no matter the circumstances, because we can trust in a God who has redeemed us and promised us that one day all things will be made right. This is the hope I cling to in the midst of my own suffering and sorrows, so that I can "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
Here is a song that I have been meditating on for the past few months and has been a comfort in reminding me that the Lord cares for His children.
(All scripture quoted from the English Standard Version)