“At a moment when I desperately needed hope, ‘Suffering & Joy‘ pointed me toward God’s life-giving truth.” Lee Ann Zanon


At first glance, suffering and joy seem mutually exclusive. One denotes pain and distress, while the other implies delight and gladness. Yet Chronic Joy’s “Suffering & Joy” printable resource reveals how the two are intertwined. I needed that encouragement recently after canceling plans with a friend.

An unexpected pain flare triggered a series of last-minute texts. I couldn’t attend the concert we’d anticipated for months. Did she know anyone who could use my ticket, especially since the event was sold out? Thankfully, her answer was yes. I sensed the Lord asking me to surrender my sadness and find joy in blessing someone I had never met.

It may be a stretch to equate losing a social connection with suffering, but cumulative disappointment weighs heavy when that loss repeatedly happens due to chronic pain. It adds yet another layer of loss related to my long-term jaw and neck problems:

  • Medical procedures that held great promise but didn’t help.
  • Beloved realms of ministry as a Bible teacher and worship leader are no longer possible.
  • The inability to care for my grandchildren, accompanied by self-imposed guilt.
  • Isolation-breeding loneliness.
  • Overall, knowing I will pay the price of intense, lingering pain if I venture beyond a very limited scope of activity.


It reminded me of an unlikely crossroads where deep pain opens the way for His all-sufficient grace. The “Suffering & Joy” printable presented a collection of inspiring quotes and suggested reading them aloud. I felt a little silly doing so but decided to try it. I was amazed at how wise insights from fellow sufferers infused my heart with fresh faith, including these favorites:

“What if illness – the stripping away of our health, our dreams, our understanding of who we are and what our future holds – is really a gift, God offering Himself to us unencumbered by all the noise … whispering love to our weary souls?” (Cindee Snider Re)

“The cup of sorrow, as inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy.” (Henri Nouwen)

“Scripture indicates that life in the age of the Spirit will have the hardest suffering and the greatest joy – and both can be experienced at the same time … This means that even when we are in pain, we can go in search of joy with the expectation that it will, indeed, find and surprise us.” (Ed Welch)

“There are rare and wonderful species of joy that flourish only in the rainy atmosphere of suffering.” (John Piper)


I invite you to explore “Suffering & Joy” for yourself. I believe you’ll discover a treasury of encouragement to lift your spirits – a treasury you can share with others as well.

The journey of chronic illness calls us to worship the Lord in both pain and praise: one hand lifting our brokenness, the other upraised as we declare His blessings. In clinging to His promised help, we arrive at the crossroads of suffering and joy, astonished by sacred gifts He bestows in that place. The road is long, yet His love is sure. To Him be all glory and thanks!


  • What aspects of your life feel most discouraging right now?
  • What specific reasons do you have to give thanks today?
  • What can you do to move toward the intersection of suffering and joy?
Yellow Bubbles
Lee Ann Zanon

Lee Ann Zanon

Chronic Joy® Staff Writer

Lee Ann is passionate about spreading the truth of Scripture. For decades, she served in various women’s ministry roles (including teaching at Corban University for ten years) until chronic pain dramatically changed her life. Her background as a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, worship leader, editor, and writer has prepared her perfectly for her current focus on writing and providing one-on-one encouragement. Lee Ann and her husband Mike live in Salem, Oregon. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. She is the author of Honest Hope.

18 Thought-Provoking Suffering & Joy Quotes

Invite a friend or family member to do an 18-Day Suffering & Joy discussion – or use the quotes as journaling prompts. On each day, read one quote. Talk about it. Think about it. Write about it. Pray about it.

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