If you were to rise early every morning as an instance of self-denial, as a method of renouncing indulgence, as a means of redeeming your time and fitting your spirit for prayer, you would find mighty advantages from it. This method, though it seems such a small circumstance of life, would in all probability be a means of great piety. It would keep it constantly in your head that softness and idleness were to be avoided, that self-denial was a part of Christianity. It would teach you to exercise power over yourself, and make you able by degrees to renounce other pleasures and tempers that war against the soul…
But, above all, one certain benefit from this method you will be sure of having; it will best fit and prepare you for reception of the Holy Spirit. When you thus begin the day in a spirit of religion, renouncing sleep, because you are to renounce softness and redeem your time; this disposition, as it puts your heart into a good state so it will procure the assistance of the Holy Spirit; what is so planted and watered will certainly have an increase from God.
Quoted by John Piper in When I Don’t Desire God (160)
Being more satisfied in God than in prosperity or the praise of man makes you willing to be persecuted for the sake of Christ. So it was said of the early Christians, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Hebrews 10:34). That is what joy in God (not earthly security) produces. Therefore praying for such liberating joy in God is one of the most worshipful and loving things a person can do. And it is very dangerous.
Praying for joy is not the emotional pampering of a joyless people. It is preparation for sacrifice. What’s at stake in the fight for joy is the radiance of love flowing from the joy of blood-bought, soul-satisfied, Christ-exalting people. When Paul said to the Corinthians, “We work with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24), he was not saying, “We pamper you.” He was saying, “We prepare you for radical, Christ-exalting sacrifices of love.”
When I Don’t Desire God (140)
When Satan says to you, Why deny yourself the pleasure of lust? Why deal with this mess, which you could avoid by lying? Why not go ahead and get that harmless luxury you covet? Why not seek justice by returning the same hurt you just received?
Answer him: The Son of God suffered (really suffered!) to deliver me from sinning. I cannot believe he suffered to make me miserable. Therefore, what he died to purchase must be more wonderful than the pleasures of sin. Since I trust him, my susceptibility to your allurements has shriveled up and died.
An All-Consuming Passion for Jesus
It is good for me that I have been afflicted. Whatever may have been the form of affliction, it was good for me. The design was benevolent; the result has been my own benefit. This will be the experience sooner or later resulting from all the afflictions of the righteous.
-Barnes Notes on the Bible for Psalm 119:71
To paraphrase, any affliction of the righteous will be worked out into benefit, into joy!!
And so, we can thank God for our afflictions! And when we are able to thank God for our afflictions, we sink deeper into the true meaning of JOY.
I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
In accordance, Lord God, I thank You for all of my afflictions. I thank You for times of darkness and of hurting. I thank You because You have worked (and continue working) all these things out for my benefit, Your glory. You are a gracious, loving God. Even in the midst of trial and judgment, I will trust You when You say You are perfectly loving and caring. You are worthy of all our praise.