During a difficult time in my life, I slept with a loaded gun under my pillow. I needed protection. I also needed strength, so I joined a gym and lifted weights. Friends would hover over me encouraging, providing help in case my muscles became too weak to continue lifting. They pushed me to continue in the repetitions and to press more weight than I thought possible. I didn’t look like a bodybuilder, but my body became lean and strong and my confidence grew. The more weight lifted, the more resistance given, the more strength was achieved.
God never wastes our time or pain, and Jesus never said following Him would be easy. He said to pick up our cross, and follow through tribulation remembering He has overcome the world. We are also reminded, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that 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” (James 1:2-4, NASB; Romans 5:3-6, ESV)
Trials and suffering grow our faith, they perfect, produce endurance, character, and hope. We can be confident that the One who has overcome the world will help us overcome everything we go through in this world.
F. B. Meyer wrote, “The irons of sorrow and loss, the burdens carried as a youth, and the soul’s struggle against sin all contribute to developing an iron tenacity and strength of purpose, as well as endurance and fortitude. And these traits make up the indispensable foundation and framework of noble character. … The world is looking for iron leaders, iron armies, iron tendons, and muscles of steel. But God is looking for iron saints, and since there is no way to impart iron into His people’s moral nature except by letting them suffer, He allows them to suffer. … Your time is not wasted, for God is simply putting you through His iron regimen. Your iron crown of suffering precedes your golden crown of glory, and iron is entering your soul to make it strong and brave.”[i]
There are blessings beyond the sufferings of life. The Israelites suffered and cried out for deliverance, yet God didn’t just rescue them, they were given the gold and riches of Egypt. Beyond the suffering, beyond the scars, comes great blessings. Chapin wrote, “It is from suffering that the strongest souls ever known have emerged; the world’s greatest display of character is seen in those who exhibit the scars of sorrow; the martyrs of the ages have worn their coronation robes that have glistened with fire, yet through their tears and sorrow have seen the gates of heaven.”[ii]
Lettie Cowman reminds, “There are many blessings we will never obtain if we are unwilling to accept and endure suffering. There are certain joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revelations of God’s divine truth that we will receive only when the lights of earth have been extinguished. And there are harvests that will grow only once the plow has done its work.”[iii]
The trials of life seem pointless, painful, and distressing, yet in, and beyond, the suffering God is working in wonderful ways. You are not forgotten, your pain is never wasted, for glorious endings come for those who have been refined by fire and tested in the sorrows of life.
“I still believe that a day of understanding will come for each of us, however far away it may be. We will understand as we see the tragedies that today darken and dampen the presence of heaven for us take their proper place in God’s great plan—a plan so overwhelming, magnificent, and joyful, we will laugh with wonder and delight.” ~ Arthur Christopher Bacon
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NKJV).
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