Falling upon hard times is offensive to our innate humanity because we hate suffering. It could be presumed that God didn’t initially design us with the need to suffer. The world we inhabit now is nothing like the perfect home it was at the Genesis of creation. Then Christ came and showed us how to suffer. Whenever we look to Jesus, we know how to suffer, but when we take our eyes off the Lord, the reality of life makes us miserable.
Jesus and so many biblical examples before and after him show us the way, but it is only Jesus who best showed us how to suffer in the following way:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
— James 1:2-4 (NLT)
It seems irrational to our sense for life in a worldly reality. That’s because such an approach to suffering requires trust and we don’t like to relinquish our control like that. That’s because it’s offensive to our God-devoid sense for objective decision-making. Making anointed decisions comes very unnatural to us.
Suffering within the loving confines of a church community, however, makes it easier, somewhat, to endure. If we can endure, God has the opportunity to encourage us for our faith. The Holy Spirit will repay our faithfulness giving us the opportunity to grow. The fruit of such growth is a steadiness many people call resilience – that ability to bounce back quickly or to withstand what might really unnerve us.
Enduring what is suffered is helped in the company of those who have also suffered. Something inspiring happens when we share our sufferings and what we have endured with others. When we are able to share what we have endured others see how suffering has softened us and made us more compassionate, kind, and courageously vulnerable.
When we suffer patiently we learn to endure. Then we are destined to grow; in fortitude, in temperance; in wisdom; in justice. The more we endure – without complaint, insisting on a choice for joy – the more we experience the faithfulness of God to endure anything.
Nothing can defeat the Christian who maintains their focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. They can endure and they will endure. They will understand God’s providence comes through waiting through the storm and exercising restraint so God may ultimately speak.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.