Today I was texting a friend who is going through a hard time. As we got to talking, I was reminded of what Jesus tells us about suffering. Not only does He say that we will experience suffering, but He tells us to “consider it pure joy” whenever we do. Who’s ever heard of such a thing? I mean I’m not exactly jumping up and down for joy when I face a trial. The thing is, Jesus knows we are not always going be happy about it. We are going to be sad, maybe mad, and possibly ask why, but even Jesus questioned God when He was on the cross (Matt. 27:46). However, He tells us to see suffering as good “because you know that the test of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4). We tend to see suffering as something that makes us feel weak when in reality God is using it to mold us into something greater. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Not everyone is going to experience the same suffering or even the same amount of suffering. God only gives us what we can handle and not everyone can handle the same things. We aren’t always going to understand why some people experience what they do, but God never intended for us to know everything. God made each and everyone one of us the same in that we are here to worship Him, but made us different in that each of us has different gifts to use for His greater plan. In that same way, the trials we face are different because what we learn from these experiences is different according to His plan for each of our lives.
*Something to remember: If Jesus is allowing us to experience suffering, He isn’t going to just leave us on our own. He is going to be there every step of the way!