Changing Suffering Into Joy
Are your tears collected or wasted?
[Suffering] may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
The Bible says we are to rejoice at all times, but how can we do that when we are hurting greatly?
As we read in 1 Samuel 1, Hannah was a lady with a big heartache. She wanted a child and had done everything she knew God asked of her – she was married, faithful to her husband, and asked God to bless her with a child. (1 Samuel 1:11).
Then the time of year came when she could travel to the Tabernacle with her husband, the place where she knew God would hear her prayer. She had not given up on God even though she had been asking for years.
How long do you pray for something you would like God to give you? Do you keep asking even when it seems like he isn’t listening?
As we read in His teaching about prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus wants us to present our needs to Him. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that we, His people, are to come before Him humbly, praying, and seeking His will for our lives, so that He can bless us according to his His will.
What are God’s requirements for us when we pray for something? We find a great answer to that in Matthew 7:7 – we are to seek things that belong to His kingdom. James tells us, by the Holy Spirit, that we must ask for things as Jesus wants them to be rather than asking for selfish things (James 4:3).
Proverbs 3:5-7 says we are to seek His will in all things for which we pray. Hannah had done everything she knew God asked of her, so now she asked Him for what she still wanted. And in her prayer, she also promised God that His gift to her would be returned to Him in the form of worship.
This is for the specific reason of giving us an opportunity to thank Him when He answers us. It also places our desires into line with Jesus’ will. Just as Hannah went home rejoicing, our trust in His mercy will be our assurance that God will provide, and keep us rejoicing.
Hannah’s heart responded in joy after she received the promise that God had heard and would answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1:18). Does that mean her life was perfect from that day forward? No – she was separated from her son from a very young age because she kept her promise and gave Him to God. Can a mother see her child only once per year without crying for the rest of the year? Jesus reminds us that this world is neither our source of joy nor a reason for despair. Our peace, and therefore our joy, is only from Jesus, as we read in Colossians 3:15.
We are not here to find joy from a successful life in this temporary home; He is making us a success for all eternity. Often that means we carry His cross for Him (Mark 8:34), just as Hannah carried her cross of separation from her son for the sake of the whole nation. Her gift to God mirrors the gift of God, who gave His only Son so that we could have eternal life. (John 3:16) We need never be afraid of any suffering He asks us to bear because He promises that our glory in heaven will be so great that our suffering cannot even be measured against it (Romans 8:18-25). Our suffering here is a cause for joy even now because we anticipate His promises being fulfilled – just as they were fulfilled to Hannah.
Pray this week:
Heavenly Father, help me to trust You enough to say “Your will be done in my life!”
Have you been praying like Hannah for a long time? Would you like someone to join you in praying? We can pray with you.