How to Be Happy Suffering
With God's grace there is incredible joy to be found in all suffering
The Bible tells us our life as a Christian is supposed to be filled with great joy ALWAYS….especially in times of suffering. We are supposed to “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3). But even if we want to, most of us just can’t. What is the problem? Why don’t we have the faith to live The Word?
“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ).
Well, the only reason we don’t understand this and can’t live the faith is, of course, from sin. When the sin is removed, we are filled with God’s grace, understand God’s will and live in perfect peace.
“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
Yet, we clearly prove we don’t really love all of God’s laws, since we aren’t in wonderful peace in all circumstances, since by our disobedience to God’s Word, we are riddled with complaining, frustrations, anger, worries, jealousies, stresses and anxieties in which we experience during so many of life’s trials; we aren’t in great peace.
We are far from “rejoicing always” and being happy with all that God allows in our life. Why?
Sadly, we simply don’t have enough of God’s grace to be able to trust in God, obey these commands and carry our crosses with joy because we have rejected bounds of God’s helping mercy from our unrepented, unchanged sins.
Faith–a faith that has “advance[d] to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1) which is now lived, which is “mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28)–truly heals all wounds and makes everything, even suffering, a cause for us to be “rejoicing that they [we] had been found worthy to suffer” (Acts 5:48).
This life to where suffering isn’t a burden but a privilege is waiting for you. Believe!
“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in [true mature faith in] Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
This incredible joy from the cross comes from God’s grace alone. We can’t use any physical endurance or natural desire to obtain this unsurpasable peace during suffering. It only comes from God.
Perhaps we have noticed our efforts to try to tolerate suffering in our different life challenges. But we aren’t looking to just “tolerate” suffering. No, we want to “rejoice in our suffering” and find no burden in enduring the least of troubles to the most agonizing pain.
There are different kinds of suffering/pain from slight frustrations to great torments…and they are in different categories: emotional or physical suffering/pain. But it doesn’t matter what kind of pain we are undergoing, with God’s grace there will be joy, and we won’t have to “force” ourselves to “like” or tolerate our suffering either. We will be happy to suffer. Let me explain.
Have we ever been in so much pain, we just couldn’t take it any longer. It was like torture as we cried out, “I can’t take it any more”…or perhaps, “I’m going to die.” Like with birthing a child, passing a kidney stone, losing a dear loved one or any number of horribly painful events in life.
Now, when we were undergoing such pain, if we had enough faith to understand we were supposed to be in joy during that suffering, then we might have tried to find joy in that agony. Perhaps we prayed and tried and tried to tolerate that suffering, like a wounded combat marine, who was trying to tough it out and be brave…but honestly, even though we might have been able to withstand the suffering without screaming in distress, there was no fantastic peace and joy beyond all understanding as God intends our crosses to be. It was still horrid torture.
Of course that isn’t anything close to the joy we are to expect during great suffering when we can accept God’s grace. This joy God delivers isn’t just God giving us an ability to withstand great torture, even though God’s grace does do that. And this joy isn’t something we can simply conjure up within ourselves by simply telling ourselves we love our cross (when our hearts simply don’t). Nor is it a happiness that we can find with suffering like perhaps when we work (struggle, even suffer) real hard for a goal: a diet, work, exercise, a hobby, relationships, etc. For example, if we made ourselves stay up late beyond our natural capabilities to study for an exam…we can find some kind of satisfaction from that knowing our efforts should produce a good end.
No, this joy which is a “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” that takes any struggle, pain, or problem and makes it most wonderfully acceptable to us, only comes from God.
When we have this grace, for example, we will say, “Yes, Lord!” with a heart of true joy, when God calls us to, lets say, redo our work over and over again…as we are seemingly wasting our time or perhaps we will happily resound “yes, Lord,” as we suffer horribly with cancer and chemo…oh, no matter what it is, we will be happy to suffer anything since it is God’s will.
This grace from God gives us such an understanding of God’s will, that we no longer want to fight against God’s will, wanting what we want…rejecting grace and the joy it brings, but we embrace God’s will and finally LIVE the FAITH in fantastic peace.
How Can I Live the Faith
Like I said earlier, the reason we can’t accept God’s grace so to live the faith is from sin.
To move forward with living our faith we must first:
- Know we should be happy with all of our crosses;
- Come to know our sinfulness;
- Start removing our sins;
- Embrace God’s grace;
- Seek to live His will perfectly…
…then we will live in wonderful peace.
Now, many of us have such a hard time seeing our sins, we simply can’t see what sins are blocking so much of God’s help in our lives. But if we want the peace the surpasses all understanding, we need to come to see our sinfulness so we can put an end to the sins that are rejecting God’s mercy. To learn more please read, “How Can I See My Sins” and “What Are the Mortal Sins.”
Truly, if we seek a life of happiness during suffering and want Eternal Life, we must change because “he became the source of Eternal Salvation for those who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Ignoring or doing very little to try to obey any command/Word of God, thinking any of our brokenness is just part of who we are, isn’t the path to Happiness on earth or for eternity.
Nobody with a truly contrite heart, who truly loves God, and can accept His forgiving mercy does that. With all fear of the Lord, we need to be seeking knowledge of how to obtain salvation so to amend our sinful ways. Then we can truly obey and truly “rejoice always.”
By not changing we are not only missing our life of joy God wants us to have on earth by not properly seeking and obtaining His grace to live the faith, we are forfeiting Eternal Life too. Any of God’s Word, we don’t work with all of our heart (aren’t honestly resolved to amend), is now a mortal–deadly–sin. We must strive to live all of the Word, if we wish to be saved. Therefore, this chronic lack of peace is really our proof of our lack of a saving faith.
Now, after we have begun to remove our sins and can finally accept grace, then we need to learn how to stop rejecting God’s will so we can embrace it with His joy. To learn more please read, “What is God’s Will.”
Mindset of Someone Rejoicing in Their Crosses
There is a constant mind set that someone has, who has the grace to love God’s will no matter what it is. This is a mind set of GRATITUDE.
Why would someone be grateful for their suffering? Well, there are different reasons to be grateful God found us “worthy to suffer” (Acts 5:48).
Blessing of the Cross:
- leads us to Heaven
- teaches us God’s blessed ways
- enlighten us to our sinfulness
- sends grace to us and others, when united with God for the salvation of souls
- console God for all of the atrocities committed against God’s Precious Blood
- help us atone for our sins and make us saints
Some saints prayed that God would find them worthy to suffer greatly. Others were brought into the faith through their great suffering. But without a doubt the cross is most certainly The Way to Christ Sacred Side of peace and happiness…but not just with our big cross. God intends to bring us to a life of great peace with every mistreatment and little inconvenience too. Yes, every cross is meant to bring us to a great life of peace, that is, if we learn, change and grow closer to Christ from it.
Some of us have told God we would carry any cross out of love for Him, but sadly we reject the grace God sends for us to carry our crosses, and we only wind up complaining and rejecting our crosses.
Yet, for someone with much grace, there is a three fold happiness that fills their heart when they are suffering greatly, which comes from knowing it is God’s will and from a (an):
- understanding that we deserve this suffering,
- knowledge of its necessity–medicine to heal our soul (penance),
- delight in the grace that is being sent for the salvation of souls (like Christ did for us).
I know it is hard to understand how we can deserve some or any of our suffering, especially if we are being injured by the hand of another, since nobody deserves to be injured by another. But to help enlighten us to this truth, I w
Most people of faith will say we believe true happiness comes from God alone, but so few live to truly love Him–and never find that true happiness He gives. Many of us feel God loving us, to some degree, like when we pray or through His healing and helping hand in our life, but sadly, most of us only like accepting God’s love…not giving Him our love.
Tragically, we live to love ourselves and satisfy our desires most of the time. Many of us will go to God with our problems, perhaps do some good works and attend Mass, but then we spend the rest of our time with the worlds pleasures, wearing a smile of false happiness…smiling about looking for our next high–whatever we go to to find our temporary happiness in the world. Yet, everything we do that isn’t to know, serve, or love God–that is to satisfy our selves (for self-love)–is offending God, who we should be loving with all of our hearts. How can we be happy we are offending God in order to satisfy our longing for love/happiness when God is wanting us to go to Him alone to satisfy our every need?
To receive God’s love–that incredible love that leads to us being wonderfully happy during every suffering and misfortune in life, that leads to unfathomable grace so to have a truly happy life in all circumstances–especially the cross (suffering/challenges)–that comes from trusting in God and GIVING love to God, not seeking to get love from God.
However, sadly we don’t really know how to love God. We might think we are loving Him through our prayers and works…and we very well might be to some degree, but that simply isn’t the complete way–the true way that Jesus loved us, nor the way we are to love Him. That can be some of the way to love God, but it is far from how Jesus taught us how to love. And if we want to be truly disciples of Christ and find a life of Joy during suffering and all trials, which leads to Eternal bliss with Chirst, then we need to learn how to love God how Christ love us. To learn more about “How to Truly Love God” please see the link at the bottom of this article.
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Perhaps we are far from happy or just have a mask upon our face and are suffering greatly. That pain we are suffering, which God allows, is meant to help us to have a happy life and lead us to salvation. I know that sounds impossible, especially if we are suffering a great burden, but it is true. However, if we don’t find God’s guidance to our life of joy in our suffering–so we can learn His blessed ways–it will all be in vain. If we don’t learn how embrace our crosses and trust God’s will, the life of peace God desires us to have won’t occur.
If we want to grow into a truly happy life and find the path to Eternal Life, we will need to gain enough of God’s grace to come to love our crosses, so we can “rejoice always” trusting perfectly this is God’s holy will for the good of our soul. How can we honestly say we have faith and trust in God, if we are outside of joy with what He allows? Do we think life should go differently than what He has given us…sadly, are we so proud, and think we know what is best for us better than God? Oh, that devil tricks us into loving our will and not the cross that God allows. This is why we are so broken.
This life of happiness in all circumstances is waiting for us is through the cross. However most won’t surrender our will to have God’s true love and will sadly go about angry, complaining, depressed, worried, feeling hopeless or jealous of others blessing when suffering occurs. We might surrender a little and feel some relief of the burden, but we still want what we think is the good life which is a cross free life. However, when we TRULY LOVE GOD–crosses and all–we are filled with unspeakable joy with all challenges, sicknesses, deaths, pain, especially with crosses that are almost unbearable and grief that is most painful. Confused? Seem impossible…ah, but this is the truth.
“To suffer and to love is the purest of all joys…suffering has been my Heaven upon earth..the only real happiness on earth is to strive always to think ‘how godly is this chalice [suffering]’ that Jesus gives us” (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church).
I know this seems just crazy because most of us hate suffering and until we receive God’s grace we will. There are many different degrees of acceptance with our suffering from a pleasant tolerance to and an ecstasy of love from God. However, when someone, who truly loves God is suffering, they are filled with unspeakable happiness–not with complaints wishing their suffering was over–just joy..wonderful joy in the cross, as they are adorned with peaceful smiles of contentment. If the smile is not on the outside–as sometimes our sorrows for the sins of the world or an initial cringe from the pain of the cross may give way to tears or an expression of momentary physical pain–but there are always smiles on the inside shining–even when we are crying and in agony–to God knowing we are loving Him–how He has loved us–through the cross.
Those who truly love God are filled with great sorry for the affliction to God from the sins of man and for the senseless suffering of souls who still don’t know the Way, but at the same time there is much happiness knowing we are consoling God through our prayers and penances. Therefore, no matter what pain those who truly love God suffer sometimes it is bitter sweat. But there is a constant peace–not jealousy or self-pity any more…just wonderful trust and love in God in all circumstances knowing it all leads to Heaven and God’s Heart of Love.
If we “say” we truly love God, and He alone is our joy, and our words are honest and true, we will be loving God like He loved us, for that is the way to true happiness. That is the Way to Heaven. When this is done correctly, there is more joy, through the cross, than any worldly pleasure could bring. Please believe this. It is most true. I know this seems impossible if we are suffering in great anxiety or physical pain, but it is the truth waiting for you. God’s love is fantastic.
We are called to “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3). This is NOT a gift for just a few special souls…no this happiness God sends for carrying our crosses is for EVERYONE, if we want it. This is God’s holy Word written for all to follow. Yes, truly following Christ–suffering and all–is the way to great peace. But if we haven’t experienced our anguish as being a source of wonderful happiness, from a lack of grace, we will find this very hard to understand, because for most our suffering is a source of despair and discontent, which is the furthest thing from joy. Plus, to make comprehension of this even harder, many people don’t understand why we would need to suffer if Christ already suffered for our sins…and if we don’t fully comprehend the need for the cross, to learn more, read the article “Why Did Jesus Die for Our Sins” (link is at the bottom of this article).
“But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly [be in Heaven]” (1 Peter 4:13).
To experience the fantastic true happiness that God delivers to those who truly love Him and to find the path of Life, we need to seek to TRULY LOVE GOD the way God taught us how to love: by WAY OF THE CROSS.
How to love God:
- suffer horrible pain, without complaint out of love for Him, like Our Lord did during His crucifixion for us – this is joy and true love;
- cry great tears out of sorrow for our sin and the sin of others for our great offences against Perfect Goodness to console God and ask for mercy out of love for Him, like Our Lord did for us in the agony in the garden – this is joy and true love;
- be misunderstood, ridiculed and rejected for living and preaching the faith, out of love for Him like Our Lord did in His entire ministry for us – this is joy and true love;
- deny ourselves of the pleasures of this world to give our all to save the souls of our neighbor, out of love for Him like Our Lord did for us – this is joy and true love;
- loose our will (every desire we have) and live only to obey the will of the Father, out of love for God, like Our Lord did for us – this is joy and true love;
- choose the cross – sacrifices
“I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful [with God’s powerful grace]” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
I know all of that pain, for someone with little grace, who doesn’t trust that all God allows is for the good of our soul to lead us to Heaven, isn’t joyful at all…it is just pain. But we need to pick up our cross anyway, the best we can, as it most certainly will lead to the grace we need to “rejoice always.” Then after we grow in more love with God and trust more wonderfully in Him, we will finally truly love the cross, knowing it sends grace for the salvation of souls. Then God will shower us with His incredible love that penetrates every bone in our body with joy. At that point in our faith all our suffering will be wonderfully delightful. Truly, the greater the suffering we have the greater unity with Christ we will have and the more joy we will experience. This is a phenomenon that words can’t adequately describe. But God offers such love and joy to those who truly love Him.
For some, they will suffer much but God will keep them in darkness (not feeling God’s love), like St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Even though she didn’t “experience” that amazing love God has in-store for us, she still declared that she was “happy to suffer what every God willed,” for she, like all saints, had an inner peace and simply desired God’s will alone knowing it is indeed very good. And those, who truly trust in God, won’t have a complaint against His will…knowing it is meant to lead to Heaven. Surely God knows the Way. Our suffering might be horribly painful, but it is God’s will therefore, very good. But most people who have true love for God, don’t suffer darkness for long, but wonderful closeness as most of the saints have described. And this love isn’t just for saints but for anyone who wishes to truly live the faith–gain true trust in God to save us.
To work towards having joy in suffering, we must grow in faith and understand, God will never give us more suffering/challenges than we can handle with joy so to delight in His love, as His grace is right there before us if we want it. We just need to learn how to let go of our will and trustingly accept His will for this grace to enter into our souls. This is something words can’t adequately describe as the cross is truly a mystery and only understood by a few, but this is the Way to Heaven. Lifting Our Values does have a book “Why Does God Allow Suffering” and “The Joy of Suffering” that does go into much more depth of the love of the cross. Plus, wonderful saints speak volumes of the wonders of suffering too…Like St. Therese of Child Jesus as she was made so little, so perfect from her heart of true love for God which was lived by the love of the cross. Therefore, if you don’t have joy in suffering, seek out God’s grace in a big way; then grow in true love of God and find the real Way to Eternal Life.
But when we are blessed to accept God’s grace to get this joy, it is prevalent in all we do as long as we are as closely united with God as we can be. Someone will be horribly angry with us, ridiculing and hating us for our preaching of the truth, and we will have a wonderful gentle smile of joy and love for our neighbor in our heart who is so misled. The pity we have for them will be obvious and sometimes even cause more frustration for our abuser, because from their pride they might feel angered by our calmness, but that is God’s love and joy in us shining to their poor broken heart. With such grace, we surely won’t respond with anger in return but love…wonderful love. It is when we lack grace that we respond to evil with evil. When we see someone sinning horribly against God, our heart will grieve for their soul; we will cry out to God pleading for forgiveness and help for them like our Lord did for us. Oh, this love God has waiting to give us that we are to give to others is great, but so few have it because so few want the cross that brings us there. Most might not notice God’s love pouring from us, to love and help His children, but God surely wants us to use that gift–His love–to bring salvation to mankind.
Be Honest With Yourself
Am I really loving God when I’m eating my favorite food, watching my favorite TV show, hanging out with my favorite friends entertaining ourselves, having a great time. Who am I really loving? Is that how Christ loved us? Is this what the saints chose? Are we doing that for the salvation of souls? Is that true happiness? We need to honestly ask ourselves, is our joy really found in loving God–the way He loved us–or the world and all of its pleasures? There is no true love to be found living for the world…that kind of happiness fades away quickly and leads to eternal destruction. What are we really living for –the cross of Christ or the pleasures of the world? Our heart should cry to God, “a 1000 sufferings I would gladly endure for love of You.” But our hearts don’t pine for love of God through the cross…but it should and with God’ help, it can.
Just going to church and praying surely isn’t enough; that isn’t suffering like our Lord cared for us. That isn’t true love. Well for some, that is a burden. Some people with little or no grace hate church and prayer or it is a burden. But once a small amount of faith is obtained–when we gain just a bit more grace–that burden quickly leaves and attending church and praying becomes a joy. However attending church and praying alone is far from the cross of Christ. That is only the very beginning of faith no matter how many Masses and prayers we pray, a whole gamut of the cross of Christ is still missing from our lives. That is no where close to a saving faith that truly follows Christ. But just like with attending church and praying, for some it is quite a sacrifice, but when more grace enters that suffering becomes a joy, so to it is with any cross/suffering/challenge we have in life, what once was a burden, with more grace, it becomes a joy. The more grace that enters our soul, the more crosses become joyful, and when we become full of grace, all suffering simply isn’t suffering any more, it is all a delight out of perfect love for God.
How can I be unhappy with anything God allows for I know it is given to me by my Beloved to hastens me towards Him…everything is to move me towards being with Him in Eternal Paradise. Everything, every pain and every pleasure, is a gift to me out of His great love. I love God’s gifts…ALL of them. How can I utter a single complaint? How untrusting and ungreatful would I be? We show God we love Him by happily caring His cross, as everyone is happy with God when life is going their way and pain free. That doesn’t prove faith at all.
“Happy is the man whom God reproves [scolds]..the Almighty’s chastening do not reject. For he wounds, but he binds up, he smites, but his hands give healing” (Job 5:17-18).
“The man who finds fault with himself accepts all things cheerfully–misfortune, loss, disgrace, dishonor and any other kind of adversity. He believes that he is deserving of all these things [as the penance to help atone for his sins and lead him and others to Heaven] and nothing can disturb him. No one could be more at peace than this man.” (St. Dorotheus)
“I bear with everything [sufferings, challenges, disappointments, etc.] for the sake of those who are chosen [those who can hear God’s word and repent and change], so that they too may [receive God’s grace to] obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).
Some people wrongfully judge the tears of the faithful as that of self pity or despair. But those of true faith don’t cry out of self-pity or worry; they aren’t crying because they believe God is going to punish them…they are willing to accept their punishment if such punishment is due. They cry over sorrow for their sins or the sins of others. They cry in great sadness for Our Lord, who loves so much, but receive so little love in return. Oh, their tears aren’t self concerned but tears of love for God or fellow man who suffers so much, but in vain, from their unrepentant sins.
How to Find Joy in Suffering
Once we realize the fantastic love and relationship we will have with God from truly surrendering the world and everything we want to love Him and His will, we won’t want anything but God’s will and the cross. To find the amazing joy God gives to those who suffer for the love of Him is strictly a gift from God. I can tell you, “just be happy with your crosses…they console God, atone for your sins and send grace for you and your neighbors soul” and you can completely agree with me. That sounds all well and good, and you can even try to convince yourself your suffering is good and that you are doing it for God. But deep down, even if you try to fake that you are happy with your sufferings, if you don’t have God’s grace to suffer joyfully, you simply won’t be truly content. And our lack of grace will be proven as we simply won’t be able to tolerate some pain; it will be just too much and we will just want it to end. We might say, “I’m suffering for You Lord,” and that is good. But we will still be far from having a true burning love for the cross and be in blissful peace. This is because to truly be filled with this indescribable happiness, it comes from God alone not from any thought we could have or inspirational words from another.
This happiness is nothing like anything we have experienced before. Therefore, since most have never received this incredible joy from anguish it will be hard to comprehend what I’m speaking about. But this marvel of God’s love is something we most certainly can be excited to work towards obtaining so we can one day have this complete perfect peace from life’s little difficulties to horrific torture. It is possible and not just for saints…it is for anyone aspiring towards sanctity. However, even without this complete perfect peace, many people can obtain some grace from God and stop fussing and complaining about everything that doesn’t go their way which is great, as many people lack much peace. But that isn’t the peace I’m speaking about. It is far greater than simply realizing all is allowed by God so therefore it is good so we accept it as His will. This joy is unspeakable wonderful.
A lot of people aren’t naturally inclined to complaining and fussing in difficult moments and will quietly tolerate and endure much. We consider them strong. But even the strongest military man or anyone who can man up to the greatest pain isn’t delighting in God’s ultimate joy during his anguish…this love God gives is something no ordinary person–with out grace can do. It is a true miracle. This joy is almost ecstatic and if you read the lives of the saints it can even grow into an ecstasy. But even before the state of ecstasy, it is unbelievable. With God’s fantastic joy, our abilities to love suffering won’t be possible by any strong person–sure even if we were weak and couldn’t tolerate even a headache before, with some of God’s grace, God will make the weakest person stronger (silent in suffering) and more accepting of their cross. But when we obtain even more grace we will become unbelievably strong–not only able to tolerate much pain, but truly love it from this overwhelming love that God will send which will fill every bone in our bodies at the same time that we are suffering horrible pain.
There are certain things one can do in which God, if He wills, does respond with much grace to help us grow in faith to have this wonderful joy in suffering. The first is gaining a complete surrender to God’s will. Which means we honestly no longer want anything. Nothing. We no longer want our spouse to be kind to us, our kids to treat us well, to be loved by our friends, to have success with our endeavors, to go on fun relaxing trips, to indulge in good tasting food, we truly want nothing. And when we want nothing but to honestly do all to know, serve and love God, that is when God rewards us with the is joy in suffering. If we are still craving our favorite food…we have rejected this grace by desiring something other than God. We must seek to give God our love by way of the cross and desire God alone. Then God, who rejoices in rewarding us with good things in return for the truly good we do for the love of Him, sends us His unfathomable love to be in perfect peace. To learn more on how to desire God alone please read “How to Desire God Alone.”