Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded to consider our trials joy (James 1:2), to rejoice in our suffering (Col 1:24), to live a life of joy (a key theme in the book of Philippians); yet in the midst of trials and heartache, joy is often far from our minds. I recently had a beautiful friend share her struggle- how was she to feel joy when she was simply clinging to Jesus with the little she had left after her cancer diagnosis and treatment. And you know what- this question is natural, isn’t it? How do we be full of joy when sometimes life is exhausting and painful?

In Tim Chester’s book, “Enjoying God”, he deals with this exact question. For it is in our suffering that we so clearly see the Saviour. Chester writes, “with Jesus, past behaviour is a completely reliable indicator of his attitude towards us now.” (p.88). As Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday and will be forever (Hebrews 13:8), looking to the Gospels and the way Jesus related to people then shows you and me how he relates to people now. Chester unpacks this further- illustrating for us the comfort Jesus offers to the mourning widow at the funeral of her son (Luke 7:11-17), or the forgiveness he offers to the two different women burdened by shame (Luke 7:36-50 and Luke 8:42-48), or the life Jesus gives by offering faith to the anxious father Jairus with his sick daughter (Luke 8:40-56). In all these situations, Jesus shows he is a personal and relational God, a God who has suffered and risen again, a God of mercy, tenderness and overwhelming love for us that pours out from his heart to ours. 

As Chester so beautifully writes: “We can be certain that love which Christ, when on earth, expressed to be in his heart, and which made him die for sinners at the command of his Father, continues in his heart still, now he is in heaven. And it is as quick and as tender as ever it was on earth, even as when he was on the cross.” p.95

Read More at Equip Women Bookclub.