The purpose of suffering

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5.

Suffering is an essential part of the Christian journey.  Jesus told us in this life that we would have trouble, but to fear not He has overcome the world.  But often times when we find ourselves in a place of suffering our initial reaction is that we desire to escape it and return to a place of comfort.

But there is a deep work that takes place in the season of suffering.  There is an endurance, perseverance, character, and maturity that are developed deep within the heart of the one who suffers and holds fast to God’s word.  Suffering will indeed test our faith because there are some who preach that if you simply trust Jesus all your problems will disappear.  This is not only false it is a deception straight from Hell because if someone where to follow Jesus Christ based on this lie, when trouble and trial would come their faith would be shipwrecked.

But the bottom line is that suffering is an essential part of Christianity.  Jesus said that for any man to follow after Him they would have to pick up their cross and deny themselves.  Picking up one’s cross and denying one’s self is not a comfortable or enjoyable experience.  It breaks down and refines who we are and transforms us into the image of Christ.

When we examine an expert fishermen who spends a lot of time out on the deep water we know that he did not become that way over night.  As he faced mistake after mistake and learned from his mistakes, in time he became an expert in his field.  The same can be said for a quarterback in the NFL.  Many young quarterbacks fail when they are thrown into the fire to quickly.  But those who are properly developed and brought along slowly have a very good carrier in the NFL.

The point is this that when we face suffering and we face trials we have two choices.  We can abandon the faith we have in Christ and walk away from the Lord, or we can stand upon God’s word and His promises for our lives.  The trials and suffering we face test how truly authentic our faith and commitment to Christ truly is.  Many will raise their hand to follow Jesus Christ but when things become difficult they will abandon the faith and return to the comfort of the world.  Let us not forget the parable of the four soils and that only one of the soils actually produce a harvest.  The other three were not able to sustain or produce a harvest.

Jesus said that road to life is narrow and few will walk on it, but the road to destruction is broad and many will walk on it.  The reason for this is that the things of the world are very comfortable.  Those who are lost in the bondage of the world enjoy indulging in the things of sin and many times when they are presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ and told they are to leave their life of sin, they hesitate because to them it is true freedom to be able to choose the world.  But what they don’t understand is that the very things they are enjoying are destroying their very lives.

As believers in Christ let us hold fast each day to the faith we have.  Let us take the challenges and suffering we face in our lives and lay them at the feet of Jesus.  The reason many struggle is because they are not willing to humble themselves and give it to the Lord.  The battle belongs unto Him and He is simply waiting for us to humble ourselves before Him and rely fully upon Him.

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