Trouble With the Joy, Joy With the Trouble


When we’re there [on the battlefield], we only see a small portion of the field in front of us. Given the unpredictability of a raging battle, one is apt to complain…suffer, or feel hopeless. And, it may appear that we lose many battles there, allowing the enemy “to have temporary and apparent triumphs.” {story told by John Piper}.

With this in mind, consider how Paul addresses the church at Thessalonica…

In imitating us (referring to Paul, Silas, and Timothy), you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great JOY from the Holy Spirit—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble

[1 Thessalonians 1:6 The Message].

Given the visual of a battle and the message from Paul concerning joy with the trouble, I’m shaking my head. Admittedly, joy is the very last thing that I feel when I’m losing or feeling defeated. Yet, lately, I’ve been surprised that despite really hard stuff, I’ve felt a sort of calm contentment deep in my bones. In acknowledging that it’s there, it remains unrecognizable. And, I’m strangely happy. It’s perplexing at best, and my conclusion is that this must be the indestructible joy that comes from a grace not of this world, because my capacity for joy and contentment is so very confined.

Is it possible that I’m actually experiencing joy with trouble? I believe so.

When I look to Jesus, I see that while he was a “man of sorrows, well-acquainted with grief,” [Isaiah 53], he was also a man of immeasurable joy and gladness.

You see, gladness doesn’t mean that there is only gladness. In the same way, joy doesn’t mean that there is only joy.

Sit back for a minute. Think about your life in the present.

Do you weep there?

Are you fearful?

Are you being tested?

Are you weary? Forsaken?

Have you been betrayed? Rejected?

Hear this: if you know Jesus, you may lose some battles on this side of the field. That may cause some confusion, but I can assure you—Jesus is not confused.

The God who came into life and death still comes. He is here. Peter Kreeft explains…

“In coming into our world he came also into our suffering. He sits beside us in the stalled car in the snowbank. Sometimes he starts the car for us, but even when he doesn’t, he is there. He sits beside us in the lowest places of our lives, like water. Are we broken? He is broken with us. Are we rejected? He was ‘despised and rejected by men.’ Do we weep? Is grief our familiar spirit, our horrifying familiar ghost? Do we ever say, ‘Oh no, not again! I can’t take anymore!’ Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was betrayed by the ones he loved.”


I’ll be the first to say I have always envisioned joy as something that is immediately apparent: BIG and bright and bubbly!

In a world where we hinge on “all the feels,” let’s not get caught up in the appeal of this type of joy. The emotion of it may be genuine, but it’s rarely a true reflection of our hearts. How easy it is to wear a pasted smile, only to be dying inside. The joy of Jesus, so beautifully draped upon our shoulders, is light, all sustaining, quiet and in a sense, anointing. It doesn’t take the trouble away, nor does it pretend it’s not there. It just works in it.

So, the question is: are we willing to take our share of suffering for the full and complete joy of Jesus? Because when the battle lines are drawn, and they will be, this joy—though peculiar—will prop us up and help us get through the next round of trouble.

Reflect ~

Today, I invite you to reflect with me here. Wherever you are, ask Jesus to help you center on Him. My prayer is this…

God, I feel the weight of your daughters today. We desperately need a taste of your joy to know the realness of it—to be rescued from the hell of listlessness, from having a spirit that is lifeless and melancholy. We are starved for your glory—your joy and gladness. Show us our hearts, and help us be honest there. Come and do what only you can do, God.

Summer Pendley

Hi there 🙂 I'm Summer, daughter of Jesus...saved, restored, & known by Him. I've been married to my love, Jason, for 15 years, and am a happy mommy to a son, Noah, and daughter, Sailer. I love quiet mornings, coffee, listening to music, reading, running, and dreaming 😉 I'm passionate about simple things, and making time to encourage and love others well. The intentionality of Jesus, in pursuing me, hemming me in, gathering the ruins of my life, and lavishing grace over me overwhelms me daily. You'll find me here, in story after story of Him rescuing me, loving me, teaching me, and drawing me into worship. In honesty, I'll share of the emotional and psychological strains of my life & how Jesus continues to reclaim & rebuild, from the inside out. Let me always speak of His faithfulness & that you will know that He is good.

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1 Comment

  1. I, too, have experienced this joy with trouble and, this morning, have a particular need to be reminded of the presence of the one who bestows it so graciously on me. Thanks, Summer.


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