Have you ever eagerly anticipated trials in your life? Have you even once enthusiastically awaited hardship in some form? It certainly is not the natural human mindset to look forward to tough times. Whether it is missing your bus on the way to work, getting tonsillitis, or losing a spouse, we feel violated when our life of comfort and ease is ripped out of our control and we face unknown and painful circumstances.
We, wrapped up in our personal grievances, often overlook any precious gift of hardship because of the distress it brings. Why would hardship be precious, you ask? How could I be grateful during trials when my life is falling apart? The answer is incredibly simple but profoundly difficult to live out: The Bible says so, and explains why.
"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans chapter 5, verses 3–5
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James chapter 1, verses 2–4
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James chapter 1, verse 12
Your good and God's glory
The Bible doesn't call you to suffer and be happy, it calls you to suffer and count it all as joy! What does suffering joyfully look like when losing your job, or undergoing chemotherapy, or giving birth to a tiny stillborn baby? It isn't an empty happiness. It isn't putting a smile on for the crowd. It isn't just sucking it up and being a man.
It is enduring through this momentary affliction, for your trials are gifted to you by God for your good and God's glory. Your sufferings refine your character and produce hope and dependence on God. He is not absent from your hardship, but endures the burden with you as he knows the pain of suffering first hand.
The most horrendously despairing trial that ever occurred has accomplished the most precious gift—your salvation. Jesus, taking the weight of all mankind's sin upon his head, went through the ultimate hardship of being forsaken by the Creator of the Universe, his Father, and crushed on a cross. His trial was for your good and God's glory.
Look to Jesus
Jesus took the weight of the world upon himself, and died laden with your sin so you did not have to. Not only this, but he gives the crown of life freely to those who love him. So endure in your trials not because Jesus calls you to cheer up and fake a smile, but because he has promised you a prize for enduring in your trust of him. That prize is eternal life with the one who has existed before the foundation of the world, who created you in his image, who refines your character through burdensome trials, who makes you perfect and complete, and finally brings you joyfully home into his loving arms.
Harriet Knox is a new wife living in windy Wellington, New Zealand. She works for the Government, loves animals, and cannot function well without a gym membership. She became a Christian at University and attends Gracenet Community Church.
Harriet Knox's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/harriet-campbell.html