"Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." (Job 5:7 NKJV)
Suffering is one of the sacred and inescapable experiences in life that every human being goes through at various times and various ways. It does not regard gender, age, race, creed, or status. There is of course varying degrees of suffering which makes the experience unique for each individual. The subject is indeed vast. However, we will discuss the matter in context with the Christian life.
Becoming bitter or better
"For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me." (Job 3:25 NKJV)
Many Christians seem uncomfortable with the idea that suffering is an essential aspect of our fellowship with the Lord. In fact, many even find dreadful the thought that God would allow such a thing to touch their lives. After all, we are the children of God, and He is a loving and compassionate Father! How could He and why would He do such a thing? Sadly, this is a prevailing and pervasive attitude in the heart and mind of the majority of God's children. We are primarily inclined to perceive suffering as a sign that we have done something wrong, and that we must have incurred God's disfavor. It is true that God does chastise us when we stray. Why? Because He simply loves us! It is also true that He allows us to go through pain. Why? Because He simply loves us! Many of us at times get bitter and angry toward God because we don't understand the point. In fact many have fallen away due to their lack of understanding.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6)
Know pain. Know gain:
The Apostle James invites and encourages us to embrace trials with joy instead of bitterness.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials." (James 1:2 NKJV)
That's a pretty audacious statement! It absolutely defies the common human mind. Joy and pain usually don't go together. James continues as he points out the purpose for pain in the Christian life.
"Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James: 1:3-4 NKJV)
It is quite interesting to observe that James uses the word "knowing" as he makes the case for pain. We must know with certainty that God has a purpose in testing our faith. The end result is we become "perfect and complete, lacking nothing." In other words, we become like the Father and His Son.
Know pain. Know Him:
Trials are allowed to touch us in order to refine and define who we are. The Apostle Peter tells us not to be surprised, nor think it is odd that we should go through trials. Again we are encouraged to rejoice in that we are privileged partakers of something glorious. There is a glory to be revealed in the end which far exceeds our trials. The glory of the Lord will cause our joy to overflow as we behold Him for eternity.
“But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13 NKJV)
One simply needs to gaze upon Jesus in order to gain a proper and greater perspective of Suffering. Because of the abundance of joy which He always had before His sight, He endured the cross and paid no regard to the inescapable shame associated with it. (See Hebrews 12:2)Here is the final analysis: The extent of our ability to rejoice and embrace trials when they befall us is directly proportional to our knowledge of Jesus. We must have eyes of faith to see the gracious hand of God in our suffering, knowing with absolute certainty that He is perfecting and transforming us in the image of His Son!
A Place in the Son
What bitter, yet sweet divine calamity
which has so graciously befallen me!
Painfully and wonderfully you opened my eyes
to see and realize where true worth lies.
You rushed over me like the mighty water falls,
and have so swiftly broken down my walls.
I surrender as I am subdued by your might,
for I have lost my strength and desire to fight.
Now I seek no more the place where I belong;
I found it in Him who's been with me all along.
I give no regard to the status quo and all the rest;
In Christ I stand and that is where I am at my best.
This is so true, I have wandered for many years why we believe this way when the bible tells us, as you said “to count is all joy when we go though difficult times”. It is so good to hear from someone that knows the truth…
Thank you dear friend for your comment. I thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to lead us to the Truth! I would be absolutely lost without the Truth! For many, God is just a genie in a lamp that exists to make their wishes come true. I suspect the reason for this sad and shallow understanding of God is that perhaps they have been influenced by the pervasive prosperity gospel that is being preached all over this country and throughout the world. I myself used to have that same mentality or perception concerning the Lord. Many want to call themselves Christians, but they want nothing to do with the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. They follow Him not because they love Him, but because of what they think they can benefit from following Him. Sadly, when things begin to go wrong in their lives, they simply fall away and vanish from the scene. Suddenly they realize that following Christ involves sacrifice, trials, and requires endurance, love for those who hate them, and so on and so forth... May the Holy Spirit give us the grace and courage we need so we can live as sons and daughters of God in a world populated with God haters! Blessings!