Life is hard. You know it, and I know it. It seems like everything will be going so smoothly, and then you get blindsided by an unexpected emergency. Often it feels like life is just a series of obstacles and problems that we must endure. Many people in the midst of difficulty, ask the common question, "Why does God allow this to happen to me?" Plagues of doubt haunt many Christians because of this question. Part of the reason is that the thought of hardship and suffering as a Christian doesn't even seem possible. Many have this idea that when you become a Christian, life becomes a nice stroll in the park on a beautiful spring day. Many follow Christ with the preconceived notion, that God owes them an easy life. This just simply is not the truth. No where in the Bible are Christians promised a life of ease without problems or suffering. In fact, we are guaranteed troubles in this life. (John 16:33) This promise of hardships in this life, leaves many of us scratching our heads. Our confused logic goes as follows:
1. If God is sovereign and in control of everything, he can prevent suffering and hardship.
2. If God loves me, than he will keep me from hardship.
3. Therefore, if I experience hardship, God doesn't love me.
Like many lies Satan tells us, they are grounded in truth. Point number one is absolutely true. God is powerful enough to do anything, including to prevent suffering in your life. However, where the logic goes awry and breaks down is at point number two. The lie satan tells us is that God cannot be loving if he allows us to suffer. The truth is that God does love us and allows us to suffer for His glory and our own good. This is in fact the promise of Romans 8:28, "That God works all things together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose." God, in his sovereign orchestration of your life, allows hardship to come into your life for your own maturity and Christ-likeness.
This is why James writes in his letter, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." So what is the purpose of our suffering? To make us more like Christ. Our suffering then is a profound instrument of the grace of God. It is a good gift, a tool, that develops us into faithful Christ-followers. This is an incredibly hard truth to see in the middle of suffering. With our eyes focus solely on the present, we have a hard time seeing how God is using our suffering for our good. However, with time comes wisdom. Looking back, you will be able to see the finger prints of God's grace in the midst of your suffering.
With the logic of point number 2 proven to be a lie, point number 3 proves to be a lie as well. Often times, the most loving thing God can do is allow us to suffer. It is a good gift. The problem is that we tend to have a different perspective than God on what is good. Our definition of good is a comfortable, pleasant, easy life. God's sees our good as doing whatever it takes to transform us by the grace of Christ. The most loving thing God can do is bring things into our life that are difficult, but through that suffering God ignites a passion in our heart to trust him in the midst of suffering. Often during those times of crisis, God deepens our faith and maturity in a way the best of times never can.
I'm not sure what hardship you are going through right now, but rest assure, that God is indeed working all things together for your good. Glorify God in the midst of trails and cling to him as your only hope. Trust in the truth of God's Word not your emotions. God is rock who loves us and holds us firm, even in the face of the must horrendous suffering. For the faithful Christian who lives his life for the glory of God and is dedicated to sharing the Gospel with others, persecution is promised by Jesus. We can take comfort in the sweet words Jesus spoke, "In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)