Peace with God is achieved when Jesus Christ is received. We have been justified by faith we have access into His grace and we rejoice in the hope of eternal life with God. But how should we react to the difficulties of life? We can still have joy even in the midst of our sufferings.
Just because we are justified by faith, that does not excuse us from the trials of life. Jesus said, “In this world you shall have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Moses wrote, "Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10
In this life we have afflictions, chronic pain, emotional distress, suffering, heartache, financial trouble, loneliness, debilitating diseases, marriage and family problems, sickness, grief. But for believers in Christ, trials work for us and not against us. God allows trials to make us better, not bitter. Our trials are designed to bring us closer to God and make us more like Jesus.
Paul says we can rejoice in our sufferings. Consider what he endured.
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
Yet he could rejoice in his sufferings because understood the reason why.
Suffering produces endurance; the ability to stand up under difficulties without caving in. But you have to suffer to develop endurance. Just like a runner who stresses his body to develop endurance. Suffering is just part of the Christian life. God knows how much tribulation we can take, so He carefully measures the suffering we face.
Endurance produces proven character. It is a quality of confidence that comes through an experience. You’ve probably seen sports teams that do great during the regular season but when they get to the playoffs play poorly because they’ve never been in that position before. But a team that has been tested with playoff experience has fewer jitters. They perform well because they have been there before. But without the first step the second step won’t happen. When you focus on God in the midst of your suffering you will develop endurance, and that endurance deepens your character. You will be tried, tested and approved by God.
Then proven character produces hope. It gives you a stronger assurance and confidence that God will give you the power, strength and encouragement to see you through what trial you face.
Suffering drives us to the one place where we can find real hope, real confidence and real certainty, God. We can boast in the hope that comes from God. When people look at you and wonder how you can get through the trials of life, you can boast that my hope comes from the Lord and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
All of us want to develop proven character and have more hope. Those qualities spring out of endurance, which comes through suffering. If it were up to me, I would prefer that God just sprinkle some endurance and character and hope on me while I’m sleeping at night. I could wake up and be a much more spiritual man! But that’s not the way God works.
And hope does not disappoint. The hope that suffering builds in us is a hope that won’t be disappointed. Our hope is centered on God’s promises and they will always be fulfilled. Our hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
The way God works in us produces a domino effect. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
What are you suffering through? Grief, chronic pain, emotional distress, heartache, financial trouble, loneliness, debilitating diseases, marriage and family problems, sickness? How are you going to deal with it? Remember, our present troubles are small, they only come when necessary and they won’t last for long.
The more you endure, the greater the blessing. So, don’t complain because you have to suffer. Our complaining doesn’t honor God and it thwarts what He is trying to accomplish in your life. Godly character can only be developed through struggle. The trials, the tests, the pain, the suffering, and difficulties only prove to make us stronger.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2
We can praise God in the midst of the storm because we know that the end result is something good. Our trials work for us and not against us. Our trials are designed to bring us closer to God and make us more like Jesus.