A Season to Rejoice!
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” –Philippians 4:4
As Easter Sunday quickly approaches, the world is gearing up to observe the resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that His sacrifice and victory over death means for those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Year after year, Christians around the world take the time to celebrate and rest in the fact that our fate has been sealed and secured in Christ Jesus and that death is no longer a threat to those who have believed in Him. However, for many of us, this season of rejoicing coincides at a time of our own personal grief, trials, and the disheartening circumstances that arise from living in a broken and fallen world. While we are often encouraged and even commanded to be joyful and rejoice in our circumstances, this can feel impossible to do. Today, we at Alpha Ministries want to encourage you to continue seeking the joy that is found in Christ Jesus and all that His death, burial, and resurrection means for you. We’re so thankful that you’ve found yourself on our blog and hope that you leave refreshed, encouraged, and inspired.
Why We Suffer
The age old question of why suffering exists in the world is one that has caused internal strife and confusion for even the most devout believers of the Christian faith. When looking to God’s perfect nature and understanding that He is indeed sovereign, the question often arises as to why severe hardships arise in our lives and why evil seems to persist. At Alpha Ministries, we daily work to relieve the suffering of innocent men, women, and children all over the world who face unimaginable hardship. From war to disease to famine, the list of unbearable adversities that occur in this lifetime could go on and on. Maybe this year you find yourself battling your own list of evils and trials. Today you could find yourself facing a failing marriage, mourning the loss of a child, wading through bankruptcy or trying to understand a mental illness. Any one of these and more could be the giants of suffering that attempt to rob you of your rejoicing this Easter season. Through your grief, it would be far too easy to grow jaded in your spirit and weary in your heart as you wait for God to intervene and change your circumstances. Today, we want to encourage you to resist this temptation and cling to what God’s word says about suffering.
Why We Carry On
While there may not be an end all be all answer to your suffering today, there is hope to be found as you wade through your individual sorrows. In the book of James, Christians are reminded of the purpose and blessing found in remaining close to Christ in our suffering. Chapter 1 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” In that same chapter, James also says to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
While we believe that these verses ring true in our lives, we understand that this answer to your suffering may not be the one you were hoping for. In our imperfect flesh, the idea of being refined by our trials is one that we would rather hurry through and surpass altogether. However, God in His perfect love for you knows better.
As C.S. Lewis famously wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain, we often hear from God most clearly when we are suffering. He writes, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Perhaps the reason you face what you face this year is a direct intervention from God Himself. Maybe all that He is needing from you in these dire circumstances is to look to Him even through your suffering and hear the message He desperately has waiting for you.
“…again I will say, rejoice!”
This Easter, the current bleakness of your circumstances may be far from something you wish to rejoice in. Heartache, pain, and loneliness may have marked your days so far this year and the thought of celebrating a religious holiday is all but exhausting… but take heart! Know that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, not a single tear you have shed in this time of grief is wasted and that the joy of your salvation is readily available to you once more.
While the resurrection of Jesus Christ has significance beyond what we can comprehend, for you this year, remember that it means any trial you are facing or uphill battle you are fighting has already been defeated by a conquering king who loves you and died for you. Know in your soul (even if your emotions refuse to do the same) that the power that raised Christ from the dead is available to you and you have every right to rejoice!
For information on the work of Alpha Ministries, visit alphaministries.com.