The Secret of Joy

May 4, 2013

by Maria Fontaine

Quotations of faith and hope in the midst of suffering

Compiled and edited by Maria Fontaine

It’s easy to see why we need happy experiences and times of joy, peace, and contentment to encourage us through this life. But it can be a dilemma when we try to understand the need for suffering, sickness, loneliness, or grief.

It’s the contrast between the positive things and the negative ones that gives us a true perspective. Light is appreciated and valued because we’ve experienced darkness. Hope is truly valued after we’ve experienced despair. Our blessings bring us the greatest joy because we’ve experienced life without them at times. We value health because we’ve experienced sickness, and we understand the value of being loved because we know what it’s like to feel loneliness.

I don’t think there is anyone in their right mind who enjoys the suffering, the difficulties, the sickness, the pain and hardships of life, yet Paul tells us in the Bible that he is determined to glory in his infirmities that the power of God may rest upon him.[1] It’s when we can look to Him in whatever life brings that His power can rest on us and give us the strength we need to walk through it, the faith we need to trust Him, and His understanding to gain all the good that He has promised to bring.

Here are a few thoughts from people just like you and me, people who were deeply aware of their own deficiencies and inabilities. They discovered profound truths because they turned to God in times of trouble and He walked by their side through it all.

Thankfulness is the secret of joy.—Author unknown

We human beings instinctively regard the seen world as the “real” world and the unseen world as the “unreal” world, but the Bible calls for almost the opposite.—Phillip Yancey

I am just as loving and good on cloudy, stormy days as I am when the sun is shining. If each drop of rain or flash of lightning makes you lose faith and doubt My love, how will you stand? Praise Me through the bad, find the good, and give Me the blessing and honor of your trust even when you don’t understand.—Jesus in prophecy

Every truth about suffering can be twisted into a weapon for or against God. Most often suffering speeds us in the direction we are already heading—whether toward or away from God.—David McKenna

Don’t shake your head when you see a mom or dad with a Down syndrome child and say, No way could I face that. Most likely you couldn’t. Which is precisely why God hasn’t asked you to. Instead, take time to seriously consider how you will remain joyful within your own particular, unique, individual situation. Accept your circumstances as a gift from His hand. Dare to thank Him for them.—Joni Eareckson Tada

Think of your worst moments, your sorrows, your losses, your sadness, and then remember that here you are, able to remember them. You got through the worst day of your life. You got through the trauma, you got through the trial, you endured the temptation, you survived the bad relationship, you’re making your way out of the dark. Remember the bad things ... then look to see where you are. When we remember how difficult life used to be and how far we have come, we set up an explicit contrast in our mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.—Reverend Peter Gomes

When you praise Me in the midst of a difficulty, your praise isn’t how you feel about the situation; it’s how you feel about Me. You’re not glorifying the bad situation, you’re glorifying Me, telling Me that despite this situation, you know I’m still there and that because I am there, everything is going to be okay.—Jesus in prophecy

There is a mindset in the prosperous West that we deserve pain-free, trouble-free existence. When life deals us the opposite, we [suppose that we] have a right not only to blame somebody or some system and to feel sorry for ourselves, but also to devote most of our time to coping, so that we have no time or energy left for serving others.—John Piper

In suffering—pray that the trial increases your capacity for faith.—Bob O’Bannon

Don’t pray for a lighter burden. Pray for a stronger back.—Author unknown

Whenever you feel yourselves weak, do not say, “I am weak,” but seek the remedy—for it is God’s Word.—John Calvin

When is the devil being beaten? Well, not when we feel great and confident, when it looks like wonderful things are happening, when the ministry is going well. (And I speak to all of us, because we are all in the ministry. We all have an area of responsibility given to us by God.) No. The devil is being defeated when we are feeling attacked and under the gun, when we feel weak and helpless and do not know what to do, when we are not sure how to respond, when in our perplexities and sense of weakness we come before the Lord and plead with him for strength to go on one more day, and for grace to help us stand.—Ray Stedman

In times of trouble say, first: He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place: In that I will rest. Next: He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child. Then: He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. Last: In His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows. Say: I am here (1) by God’s appointment (2) in His keeping (3) under His training (4) for His time.—Andrew Murray

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through the loss of a loved one, this difficulty or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy.—Oswald Chambers

There is still peace to be found in a troubled world. It resides in that quiet place of rest in My arms, which you can travel to in spirit any time, no matter what’s happening around you. If you find yourself having a hard time finding that special place, take some time to practice going there. Get familiar with the route that takes you there, and the more you go there, the easier it becomes, and it can be a blessed way to escape when things get too intense or your spirit needs respite.—Jesus in prophecy

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.
Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored,
Safe within the veil.—A. B. Simpson

[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9.