Pain, sorrow, suffering and tribulation are words that relate to deep distress in our lives caused by injury, loss, disappointment, or other misfortune. These troubles are a result of living in a fallen, sin-cursed world and can bring great distress to the mind, body and soul. Our feelings and emotions are often stirred-up when these difficulties arise and can quite often take us to such a place of despair in our natural pursuits of happiness and joy. Many of us have experienced such great pain in this life, which even the sting of death would seem as such a relief, and it is often no different for those whom follow Christ. Are you able to perceive the beauty that is meant to grow out of these hardships, as one of God’s elect? The apostle Paul speaks of this in Romans 8:28; “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” In that, we know there is a God-ordained purpose in every event that take place within our lives. God’s children are meant to seek Him in these times, as well as in all other times.
There are various reasons why the tribulations of this world bring such great pain into our lives. Sin is often the culprit to our suffering. Sometimes it is the sin that we commit that leads to the pain that we feel. Other times it is the sin that others commit that brings distress into our lives and it may also be a combination of the two. There are also those moments when misfortune occurs and nothing relating to sin seems to have taken place. Whether or not your difficulties are a result of sin, we can sometimes find evidence of sin in our reactions to the suffering. The relevancy in making this point is not to bring guilt, but to encourage us in searching deep within our hearts as to our thoughts, motives, desires and do they honor God? By seeking to honor God in these things, we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ and that brings peace to our souls. Jesus Himself felt sorrow over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35) and it was related to the love that He had for Lazarus and his family. It shows us that God shares in the loving characteristics that He has given us. God also reveals in scripture, His sorrow over the people that will not accept Him as God and Lord (Romans 9:1-5). Examples of God’s sorrow are connected to His pure and perfect love (1 Timothy 1:5). God desires to teach us about His perfect love and selflessness in the trials that we will face. We must be mindful that our reaction to sorrow does not lead us to unforgiveness, envy, covetousness, pride, unrighteous anger or believing that we know better than God what is best for us, as those responses reveal a lack of trust, as well as ingratitude towards God.
We live in a fallen world and the devil will try and rob from us what he can, and God may give him the authority to do so as Job 1:12 indicates in reference to Job’s circumstances – And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. – Although we are not given all the answers as to why God allows evil, calamity or other painful events to occur, biblically we know that it is for His purpose and glory, which we cannot comprehend in its entirety here on earth. Referencing my study, God’s Hand in Calamity, it will give you insight into that question. Often, our sorrow may relate to our own selfishness, as was previously discussed. We are sorrowful when something occurs that conflicts with our hopes and desires. God is completely sovereign and when something happens that we do not like, we can be confident that He did not make a mistake in allowing it to occur. If someone we deeply love tragically leaves this world, isn’t it natural for us to grieve that loss? Yes, and God understands and desires to console us in those times. We can expect to war with our emotions as believers in Christ. For in God’s own purpose in allowing the enemy to rule upon this earth for a time, will we accept God’s sovereignty, trust Him, and in our relationship with Him, do we accept that satan has temporarily been given dominion? In John 12:31, Jesus references the “ruler of this world” and that is Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God, should shine on them.” Colossians 1:13-14 states, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” – The god of this age refers to Satan. When studying these verses along with the rest of scripture, we are told that Satan does not have ultimate authority of this world, but that he does have authority over the minds and hearts of the unbelieving world. Those whom truly follow Christ are called to believe God in truth versus the lies that the remainder of the world eternally succumb to. As believers, we will constantly battle against our flesh while on this earth. The way we battle against this is by recognizing, understanding, believing and living-out the truth of the gospel. Scripture is God’s word as Prov 30:5-6, Gal 2:11-12, 2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21 and Rev 22:18-19 reveal and any doubt of that within our hearts will give way to the enemy speaking lies into our lives, making our situations worse. When we begin believing everything that God has said is true, our greater trust in Him not only comforts us, but also teaches us how to respond to the suffering that we endure. This is the beginning of discovering peace and learning to be content and even having joy, which God has chosen for us in this life, in the midst of all circumstances.
With all this being said, remember, we are human, we will battle our flesh until the day we leave this earth as believers in Christ and God is fully aware of this. Even though suffering is sometimes a result of sin in one-way or another, it is natural to this world. We are not meant to punish ourselves where we fall short in understanding these truths, but we are called to, and given the tools we need to fight for truth and joy in the midst of suffering. One of the greatest lies that many of us have given into is a belief that we can attain the circumstances that we want with God’s help without considering what He wants for us. We would never purposely choose our own painful circumstances that God purposes into our lives, as He uses those to draw us to Him and strengthen us. We must overcome any belief that because of our faith in God, He will place us in circumstances that “we want” just because we love and trust Him. 1 Chronicles 28:3 evidences God not giving King David permission to build a temple for Him, in that God knew better than David what was good versus what David “thought” was good. The quotation within the verse comes from the Father Himself, “But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well in that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’” – We are called to trust God in all circumstances that we participate in. In this world, many circumstances are guaranteed to involve great difficulty stemming from the effects of sin in this world. Our answer is to stop striving for those things that we think bring temporal happiness versus eternal holiness. Scripturally, there is nothing wrong with gaining monetary wealth, physical health, relational happiness or any other kind of temporal blessing, as long as your reasoning does not violate scripture. We have the propensity in hoping that these things alone will bring us the joy we need, when history and scripture have shown us that we will face great adversity on this earth while we are here and to rely on temporal blessing is unwise often idolatrous. There have always been and always will be difficulties related to financial hardships, struggles with those whom we love, as well as sickness and/or death that we will face. There are wars, calamities and evil things that take place, as the evil one prowls the earth to and fro like a roaring lion as both Job 1:7 and 1 Peter 5:8 make mention. It is good to have joy in the things that God gives us while we are on this earth, knowing that He is the gift giver. We must also seek our greater joy in Him alone, as these things we have been given are temporary. When we have found our joy in Him alone, we are not only better prepared for the coming difficulties on earth, but simultaneously preparing for our eternal relationship with Him (sanctification).
Today’s Christians are not entirely different in how they view Jesus Christ in comparison to the historic Jews who were waiting for their coming Messiah. They believed that He was to end Roman rule over them, just as people today think that with Christ, they should not have to endure many painful trials that take place. Americans tend to forget that Christians face severe persecution throughout the rest of the world and it is now increasing its movement into this country. We have forgotten that our primary purpose in trusting God, is not that He will eliminate suffering from our lives (in fact, we are told in scripture that we will be hated because of our faith and that will increase our suffering-Matthew 10:22-23), but because He commands us to trust Him if we have truly accepted Him. Had the Jews truly studied and believed God’s word that they had at that time, they would have better understood what Christ’s purpose was. That has not changed today and far too many Christians still do not correlate the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice in conjunction with our cross to bear on this earth (Luke 14:27) as preparation for eternity with Him. When we realize God’s true purpose for us and go after it; that is when we truly glorify God, as it is representative of our belief in Him and His word!
With all that being said, really, what good is the pain that invades our lives? It has taken me what seems far too long to gain an understanding of that, and God uses it for His good. What we know from scripture is that God has permitted the enemy to rule upon this earth for a limited time. As previously mentioned in reference to Job 1:12, we know that God allows His people to endure pain and suffering, even from the hand of the devil. Circumstances of life along with the enemy’s influence will continue to heap troubles upon us and God will use them as a means to teach us to trust Him in all things. Do you hold onto anger in the painful things that have occurred, and is it directed towards God? God’s word reveals His perfect love for those who will bear their cross for His glory in this life, as Jesus Christ bore His cross for the Father, to take upon Himself, the sins of the world. He purposed to save those whom will repent of their sins and who will claim Him as their LORD and Savior. It is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that paid our price in full for our sinfulness. When we come to the realization of the price that was paid, and that no good deed on our part relates to the salvation we receive, only then can we begin to realize the joy that is to be attained from true belief. When we dive in and meditate on God’s love for us through the truth of His word as scripture reveals, we begin to understand the beauty of the pain we have endured. He even ordained those moments of tribulation into our lives (Deut 32:39, Amos 3:6, Isaiah 45:7) to bring us to our knees in dependence upon Him and realizing that He loved us so much that He was willing to bring such great sadness upon our hearts to allow us to see the beauty in Him alone (Rom 5:3-4, James 1:2-3, Heb 12:5-6). Once we come to that understanding in our heart, mind and soul, then we can begin to grow in our love for Him in all circumstances. That is what leads to a true and amazing joy that no circumstance could ever fulfill. There is Godly sorrow as well as worldly sorrow and 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 speaks of the difference. God has designed sorrow to lead us to repentance and a far greater hope in Him than what this world has to offer. The painful depths of the deepest and darkest valleys should lead us to seek Him in such a way that will reveal how expansive His love is for His sons and daughters. The parable of the lost son in Luke 15 is evidence of the pain and sorrow that leads a wayward son to repentance. Do not just listen to what I have written about regarding God’s love, but purposely go after it with everything you have and with fervent prayer and belief! Jesus says in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It is only through God’s guidance, as He has magnificently changed my heart through the most excruciating times in my life. It wasn’t the pain alone; but that in the pain, He helped me to pursue Him will all my heart.
Although happiness and joy are related, there are differences between them. If you look at the word happiness, it is tied to happenings, luck and fortune. It has more relation to temporal circumstances. Joy is related more to a level of peace and contentness and is not based so much on circumstances. James 1:2-3 beautifully states, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Hupomone is the Greek word for patience, which is also synonymous with endurance. It took an act of God through the time and trials He has endured alongside me with His loving grace, and the will He has given me to persevere in seeking Him and understanding truth. It is the truth of His word, which has allowed me to see the beauty in the pain. It has brought to my heart and to my attention the great love that He has for His sons and daughters; that He would allow such a great pain into their lives to turn them from the evil ways and towards the ways of His loving rule in their lives. That is perfect love! It is preparing us to spend all of eternity giving praise and honor to the Father that lovingly sacrificed His innocent Son for our eternal relationship with Him. We are called to live lives, willing to endure the struggles that we will face, and at the same time, knowing that they are meant to produce a greater love and reliance for Him. Others will see how we react to the trials in life. God will use these things to evidence His glory and draw others to Himself.
If you believe that you fall short in your joy of the Lord and accepting His desire for you to live joyfully in the midst of the difficulties, then prayerfully ask God to give you the understanding in what He desires for you. It is in His word and it is real. He allows this pain into your heart and soul, so you may ask Him for help, to seek and to persevere in understanding and believing. Below are many verses related to this topic. Not only do I ask and suggest that you read them, but do what is intended and study them, meditate on them and believe them. Pray over them and ask God to reveal their depth of meaning and understanding to you, as He desires that you have that greater joy that this world and its solutions will never bring. More than anything, God desires that you be united with Him, that you don’t just put Him first, but that you put Him everything!
As you meditate on the scripture below, you should notice the emphasis placed on various aspects of truth; that goodness and adversity come from God, so take JOY in that they come from Him for His perfect purpose. Godly sorrow brings a greater joy! Look to the Lord for strengthening in the times of sorrow and weakness and do not fear, as you are to trust in Him. Sorrow is intentional in leading His people to a greater trust in Him. A sad countenance relates to wisdom as mirth relates to folly (Ecclesiastes 7:3). God has given me greater insight through the pain I have endured, as I have learned to focus on Him and it is true and it is wise, not just my own experience. There is a reward for our endurance for fighting the good fight and for trusting in Him. He calls us to overcome and He leads us if we will follow. Men will hate us. By suffering in Christ, we will receive consolation through Christ and we cannot compare the momentary affliction to the glory that is to come and as the apostle Paul states in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Let our sorrows lead us to repentance, to newness of life and to a greater hope, for we are awaiting the Day of the Lord!
Verses Relating to Sorrow, Tribulation and Joy
Deuteronomy 20:8 – “The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’”
Job 2:10 – But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Psalm 119:28 – My soul melts with heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word.
Proverbs 3:25 – Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes.
Proverbs 14:13 – Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.
Proverbs 24:10 – If you faint in the day of adversity, surely your strength is small.
Ecclesiastes 2:2 – I said of laughter – “Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted, a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace,
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time, Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 – Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of the mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This is also in vanity.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 – Consider the work of God; for who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
Isaiah 35:10 – And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 40:31 – But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 45:7 – “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
Jeremiah 32:42 – “For thus says the LORD: “Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.”
Lamentations 3:38 – Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?
Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:10-12 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 10:22 – “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 11:29 – “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Luke 5:5 – But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
Luke 6:22 – “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.”
John 11:4 – When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:35 – Jesus wept.
John 15:21 – “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Acts 5:41 – So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Acts 14:22 – strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying. “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Romans 5:3-4 – And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produced perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 8:17-18 – and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
2 Corinthians 7:9-11 – Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Philippians 3:10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
2 Timothy 2:10 – Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
Hebrews 5:8 – though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 10:32-38 – But recall the former days in which after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Hebrews 12:3-5 – For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
James 1:2-3 – My brethren, consider it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
James 2:5 – Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
James 5:11 – Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
1 Peter 2:19-23 – For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if you, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1 Peter 3:14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:1 – Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
1 Peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
1 Peter 5:10 – But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Revelation 2:3 – “and you have persevered and have patience, and have not become weary.”
Revelation 7:17 – for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 21:4 – “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Verses Relating to Inerrancy of Scripture
Proverbs 30:5-6 – Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
John 17:17 – Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Galatians 2:11-12 – But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20-21 – knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 22:18-19 – For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.