Is there such a thing as joy in suffering? Until recently I thought there wasn’t or that it was something only the saints obtained, but oh, how I was wrong.
I want to take you back to summer. I had such an amazingly blessed summer that I never got to share because I was so busy, but now that I have some time here it goes. This summer I had the joy of being a prayer warrior and part of the first ever summer staff traveling team. I traveled nineteen states with thirteen people in a fifteen passenger van and we led four weeks of camp at Rockyvine (Missouri) and Camp New England (Massachusetts). If it sounds like a crazy time, you would be right. It was! It was a summer I will never forget.
“Now Carrie,” you may ask, “how does joy in suffering come into play with your summer? It sounds awesome, not horrible!” And it was awesome, but here’s the deal, when good things are happening the evil one doesn’t like it, and he tries to stop it. Now of course we know who wins. Jesus does! But the devil still tries to put up a fight. So during camp I spent a lot of time suffering in sickness. I caught a cold, had major back pains, and found myself stuck in bed for a few days. During those days in bed I couldn’t focus on much because the pain was so intense. In the midst of all of this camp was still going on and I was miserable. One day in the chapel I tried to pray away the pain. I realized that I could offer up my sickness and pain for the well-being of others, specifically for the summer staff, the chaperones, and the teens. As I realized this I was overtaken by joy. It was a joy knowing that my suffering when offered to the Lord just might help those teens be truly present to the Lord. The next time I was stuck in bed I couldn’t help but smile. Me stuck in bed offering my suffering to God for the campers meant some teens were drawing closer to the Lord. That day, I was willing to take one for the team. What a joy!