Christian Living

The Secret of Rejoicing While Suffering

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 04/19/2012

If you haven’t heard the story of how Corrie ten Boom and her family hid Jews from the Nazis in Haarlem, Holland and then suffered in concentration camps, I recommend her book, The Hiding Place, or this dramatized version of it.

But now you can also hear her story from the Corrie ten Boom Museum, which offers an online interactive tour of the Ten Boom home where you can explore 360° images of each room while listening to what happened there. Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, so it’s a perfect time to take the tour.

I’m endlessly fascinated by Corrie ten Boom and people like her who rejoice in God in the midst of the worst kind of suffering.

Fascinated by people who can truly say with Paul:

[I]n any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

(His secret was his knowledge that God would sustain him, no matter what. That kind of trust in God is a faith that destroys fear of the future.)

Fascinated by people who agree with Paul:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Fascinated by people who, like Paul, rejoice even while suffering, because the pain is less important than the fact that

Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death (emphasis mine).

And my fascination has been this: How did these people get there? So far, the answer I’ve been able to find seems to be a simple one—not complex, not advanced, and not beyond the capability of any of us who have been united with Christ. And here it is:

The Holy Spirit will transform us by His power—the very power that raised Christ from the dead—into people who see Christ as He is, and who therefore value Him and the spreading of the truth about Him above all comfort, through these means:

  • The very ordinary practices of reading, learning, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible; of praying consistently, intentionally and honestly, with repentance, humility, and dependence; and of being part of a local church where we can receive what we need from God through the other members of Christ’s body, the church, which is “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part…for the building up of itself in love.”
  • Time. I don’t think we become these people overnight. God is writing a story in each of our lives in which our redemption will honor Him and His grace in front of the whole world. This is usually a long-term plan. He seems to teach and shape us through events in our lives, and events take time.
  • Practice. As we learn to value God more and more, and as we experience His faithfulness in situation after situation, we learn to trust Him to enable us and strengthen us in the future, freeing us to rejoice that our suffering will be used by Him for good.

Are you afraid to ask God to make you into one of these people? You probably should be. I’ve never once asked God to make me humble without suffering something painfully humbling soon after, so I can’t imagine this kind of prayer would be different. So yes, you might lose some things as an answer to this kind of prayer. But what if God, as part of His answer, also made you into someone who “count[s] all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord”?

Can you trust Him to do both?