In the first-century, suffering was the rule rather than the exception for a Christian. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5, this means we will experience difficulties that help us grow.
“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).
We rejoice in suffering, not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks to reveal our character. I use “reveal” intentionally, because I read that a famous football coach once said, “Football does not build character, it reveals it.”
Likewise, I believe we often do not know what we are “made of” until we are forced to find out. We won’t know where our faith is until we have to rely on it. This may come in the form of a personal challenge – loss of a job, an illness, disease, or injury – or maybe we our child is born with special needs or we have become the primary caregiver of an elderly parent. If such a problem or trial happened to a friend, we might have said to ourselves, “Wow. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t think I could.” When, all of a sudden, it is you, and, guess what? You step up. You respond. You find a reserve of energy, faith, and love you did not know you had. Except for this challenge, you may never have known you had.
Yes, problems and trials help us develop endurance, strength of character, and a confident hope of salvation. In moments of difficulty, if we are willing to look, we will discover how much God loves us. That the Holy Spirit has filled our hearts with God’s love. It has always been there. It’s just that, sometimes, we are unaware of the depth of our faith or the strength of our character until it is revealed through a trial or tribulation.
So, to all of you who are facing a problem or trial, please know I am praying that God is working on you, and you are discovering you are the person He created you to be. You always have been. You just didn’t know it yet.
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