Most Christians would probably agree that when they first came to faith by receiving Jesus, they thought things would get easier. Knowing Jesus is for you, helping you, that alone brings such an assurance for our future. Though our eternal future feels secure, at some point all of us say, "I thought my life was gonna get 'better' or 'easier' with Jesus." Well, yes, and no. The truth is life is hard.
Have you ever thought about the life of Jesus, I mean, what His life must have been like? His childhood, His teen years, His twenties. All the time feeling alone, isolated, misunderstood, and alien? If you have ever felt like people don't understand you, Jesus is a friend who understands. No one could ever understand what He was carrying. Jesus demonstrated living a life of suffering with joy.
There is a secret here in this apostolic prayer, do you see it? If we reach out to God for strength while we patiently suffer long, there is joy available to grab a hold of. That joy is always there, always available, in the midst of the trials. That joy doesn't get us out of the storm, it carries us through it.
See, here's the secret. It is not "either" "or". Sometimes we think that there is a season for trials, and a season for joy. That is all wrong. Every season is a season of joy. Joy is found in the trial, the storm, the letting go, the laying down, the surrender, and the fellowshipping with Jesus' suffering. Joy doesn't replace pain. Life is full of hurts and challenges, and believe me I have walked through some unbearable places of pain where I thought what I was facing was too difficult for a human to endure. I am telling you the truth, the darker, the more painful, and the more impossible storm you are facing right now could be the greatest opportunity you've ever had to get under an open heaven and experience the supernatural in your life you never dreamed possible. In a particular horrific time of my life, this verse came to understanding for me:
There is a special closeness for those who choose to turn toward God in their time of brokenness. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he washed the feet of His betrayer, ate with him, knowing he was about to be turned in wrongfully, knowing he was going to be denied by His friends, and went to pray. Knowing the cross is in front of Him and His ultimate suffering was just a few short hours away, He pressed into this reality. Jesus took His broken, disappointed heart, and suffering long, He pressed in and prayed more fervently.
I hope this encourages you, no matter what you are facing today, you have an opportunity to grab a hold of joy in the trial and let it catapult you into the open heaven above you now!