We need not find joy in bad circumstances. We should actively despise illness, disunity, conflict, death, and the other evils of a fallen world. Scripture never encourages us to think of the bitter fruits of darkness as good. Indeed, we should pray against these woes. We should seek happy, prosperous lives for our families, We should desire good for our congregations. We should exult when sickness departs and health dawns.
While there is no inherent good in what Jonathan Edwards calls “the miseries of this life,” it is profitable for Christians to contemplate them. This will not prove difficult for us; after all, we must all face trials. God does not withhold adversity from any believer. One way our earthly difficulties benefit us is this: They remind us how “sweet” God’s blessings are. Without any challenges, we would not know how joyous joy is, or how happy happiness is. This is true not only of temporary afflictions, but even of hell itself. How glorious is heaven by contrast!
Some Christians will undergo terrible challenges here on earth. Whether this is true for us or not, we may know that the pain we taste here will only amplify the “heavenly happiness” we will soon enjoy. This does not lead us to give thanks for sickness, unemployment, conflict, or death. It does lead us to give thanks to God, who uses even the worst things to give us the best things. Affliction may seem unending; but truly, the night will not last long. The morning is coming, and it will be all the sweeter for our suffering.
If the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
-Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 306.