Do you ever wonder what the whole point of all our hardships is? Why do we have health issues? Why do we struggle financially? Why did they make Indiana Jones 4?
OK, yeah, so the world is full of suffering because of sin which causes are sorts of bad stuff. But before we move on, let’s recap one huge point: Christ suffered too. And he suffered and died so that our suffering could be taken care of in an eternal way.
So as a Christian, why does God allow me to suffer?
Let’s say God wanted you to be a star quarterback on a team. Would he tell you to stay on a comfy couch eating candy all day? No, he would have you run till you’re tired, lift weights till you’re sore, run drills till you’ve got it. Why? So that when you’re put into the game you won’t be some fat blob who can’t throw a pass or pukes after running two yards… but rather be awesome and score amazing touchdowns.
So what is God’s goal for us? To make us like Christ – who is glorifying to God. This is called “Sanctification”. Christ is like the perfect quarterback who scores touchdowns on every play.
God runs us through drills, training and hardship so that we can have more traits in common with that perfect quarterback. Christ had love. So God puts us in the position where we have to love people who are hard to love.
Christ had patience. So God grows our patience by putting us in difficult situations where we have to grow our patience. Christ had all nine of the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are some of the traits God is growing in us to make us more Christ-like.
This world is full of hardships (again because of sin). We can either learn to not only deal with the hardships but be grown to the point where we can help others deal with hardship. Hardship is like lifting weights. The more you lift, the stronger you get. The stronger you get, the more you can bear and help bear the weight of others. Yes, many people wish they never had to exercise.
Exercise is hard. But its difficulty is the point. When you exercise you grow stronger. That’s why Scripture says in James 1:2-4
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So what do we do? When we understand that it’s the very hardships that make us stronger, which make us more Christ-like, we begin to see hardships not as something to be feared, but something to grow from. So we have to follow the command of “Count it all joy,” which is very much like another command, ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thess 5:18). To help follow these commands as it relates to hardships try doing this:
- Think of a hardship that you deal with on a daily basis.
- Come up with three things to be thankful for. One of these things should be thanking God for growing a particular fruit of the spirit in you.
- When that situation arises, be ready with your three thanks.
For example, if you have difficulties with people at work, your three thanks could be:
- God, thank you for growing Christ’s trait of patience in me.
- Thank you for my job which provides for me and my family.
- Thank you for giving me an opportunity to show Christ to others.
Doing this in one particular situation will hopefully open our eyes up to do it in others. When that happens, our overall attitude begins to change and we start seeing things from God’s perspective – which really is faith. God loves us and wants to sanctify us. As Christians, one day our suffering will end. But until that time, he’s growing us so we can deal with our current sufferings, minister to others, and glorify him more.
Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Take Time to Pray: Ask God to help you give thanks for how he is trying to sanctify you. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Joy. To count it all joy when we face hardship.