‘My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of any kin, consider it nothing but joy, because you know the the texting of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that your may be mature and complete, lacking nothing’ (James 1:2-4). So we should have joy in all our suffering right? If I touch hot coals should I rejoice in getting burnt?
In Matthew 5:10-12 we are told we are blessed when we suffer for righteousness’ sake and for Jesus. So if we are suffering because we are struggling to be live for Jesus then we are blessed. When we struggle we grow, as ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us’ (Romans 5:4). The trails in question I argue, are things which test your faith. When we ask ‘how does God allow this to happen’, and seek the truth, we will grow.
When we enter trying times then we should know that ‘all things work together for good for those who love God who are called according to their purpose’ (Romans 8:28). If we love God then our struggles will not be in vain and there is always hope that good can come from it. We may not see the good for a while, but keep loving and trusting God and it will.
Should I then TRY to make myself suffer to grow?
Let’s look at this on two levels; physical and spiritual. Should you make yourself suffer physically? Well if your body is a temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) then damaging it to grow is similar to insurance fraud; setting the building on fire to get the insurance money. That is something which we would see as immoral; we should not seek to hurt ourselves to grow as we cannot pull insurance fraud on God. What about spiritually? should we ourselves into places where we are tormented and tempted? should we always meditate on the terrible things which are happening? well Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about anything good and honorable. Now do not be confused, there is a time to weep (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and there is a time to ‘mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15) but we aren’t to put ourselves intentionally in a bad way to force growth.
Let me just stress the importance of ‘mourning with those who mourn’. Though we know God can use all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), sometimes the best thing to do is not to tell someone ‘this will be okay’ but it is to mourn with them. When one member of the body suffers we all suffer with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is something we do out of love for another, we subject ourselves to understanding and feeling their pain. Sometimes we may even need to dig up memories to get through personal issues, however this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about growth.
So I’ll grow sure, but why should I be joyful about it?
If you build something, unless you build it for the Lord you build in vain (Psalm 127:1). When God build something it is eternal (Ecclesiastes 3:14). When God helps us to grow, it’s God guiding that growth. Also, when we’ve been through something we can help others through it. It’s that ‘hope’ from Romans 5:4 that keeps us looking forward to the good that’s coming, and that same hope that can inspire others. Even when we aren’t joyful at the moment, if we love God and follow him, we can take joy knowing that God can use anything for good in the future (at the least we can look forward to meeting him).
Lots of what I have written about stems into other things, but the main point is this: suffer with those who suffer out of love and have hope in your own suffering. Never stop loving God with all you are, do not let suffering discourage you. Stay strong dearly beloved.
God bless you and keep you always.