You will suffer. Whether the suffering is physical, spiritual, or emotional, you will eat more than a few punches in this life. Now, you may not have your head lopped off like many of our brethren in Iraq or Syria, but that’s not to worry, Satan has his dossier on you.
And he will coordinate an assault plan and put your head to the canvas.
More than an uncomfortable reality, suffering can be a familiar face to some of us. That being the case, what does the Bible offer to us?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4
Not only are we supposed to persevere, but we are also to march forward in joy. When reading the passage, the first action is to think, “The outrage! Here I am, eating trial after tribulation, and I’m supposed to stroll through all of this as if I were singing ‘When the Saints Go Marching in?’ How can I do this?”
You certainly can’t on your own strength, but that’s where joy comes from: unraveling your own self-sufficiency and relying on God’s provision when circumstances smother you.
Suffering drives us into Jesus’ arms. Most of the time, when we are in control of the circumstances, we can keep Christ at an arms length. But when the walls come tumbling down, we become poor, weak, and helpless in spirit. That’s when we fix our eyes on Jesus and His character, because that’s all we have left. And it’s all we had to begin with, but suffering has us recognize that reality.
Suffering requires us to be patient, because it quiets our self-pity and demands for immediate restoration of our situation. As the Holy Spirit works on our character, we begin to rediscover God’s character, and in turn, we begin to develop a persevering posture.
That’s when the joy comes in—the quiet joy of refining our faith in God’s character and discovering gratitude in His provision.
There’s no refinement without a diagnosis, and suffering lays us bare.
Suffering spreads out our spirits before us and reveals our character. Oftentimes, we have to turn away from the stench. And therein lies the opportunity to penetrate to the deeper spiritual faultiness we otherwise would not have confronted.
In the end, God is not concerned with your comfort; He’s concerned about you dwelling with Him in spirit. He sent His son to the most gruesome execution for our redemption. If that doesn’t show you God means business about His desire for us to put our faith in him, then not much else can convince you.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. For updates on his latest blog posts here at restandrefuge.wordpress.com, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email. Want to read more? Check him out at themajestysmen.com/author/kevincochrane, a friendship and mentoring community for Christian males (views on my blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com are my own and do not necessarily represent those of The Majesty’s Men). To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.