The word kept appearing throughout the week: in my morning devotions, in my notes from Sunday School, in that little sermon reminder I’d sketched for myself at least a year ago, still lying on my desk.
In Hebrews 10:34, the writer commends his brothers for suffering the loss of their goods with joy. I marveled to see the words “suffer” and “with joy” not just in the same sentence but also right next to each other. The believers suffered with joy.
It’s possible to suffer with joy.
The writer praises his brothers who “joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”
The believers were able to have joy in the midst of their loss because they trusted in the future gain that was promised to them. (Just like II Corinthians 5:1: we can have joy in a failing body because we trust in the future body that is promised to us.)
These promises provide the foundation of our perspective. Is it any coincidence that Hebrews 11, the famous Hall of Faith, comes right after this discussion of suffering and joy? That Hebrews 12 goes on to explain the chastening of the Lord and how we can endure with joy knowing God is working for our good? That James, the very next book of the Bible, starts with the similar exhortation to “count it all joy” when we suffer?
Hebrews 11:1 puts it plainly:
“Now faith is the certainty of what we wait for, the conviction of what we don’t see.”(my translation of the Spanish RV 1960)
The “heroes” of the faith whose life stories follow—how could they suffer such loss, destruction, separation, rejection, and physical agony with joy?
They believed God’s promises. They believed in what was to come. They had faith.
And what is faith but setting your eyes on what you can’t see?
Sisters in The Valley, what is your perspective today? Do you know God’s promises? Are you believing them? Are you letting these promises fix your eyes on the invisible so that you can suffer with joy through the visible?
I’m the first to admit I need to be reminded every day—every moment—of these promises so that they can change my perspective, taking my eyes off myself and putting them on Jesus and eternity. So that I can remember what—and Who—is really important. So that I can suffer with joy.
Pray for me, and pray for each other. And let’s remind each other of God’s promises.