June 28, 2013 - Serious Struggles

Why is it every time I’m building character, I’m cold, wet or hungry?

There must be a more dignified, easier way to build integrity—but how?

Are your greatest heroes men or women who climbed the world’s ladder of success? Or are they people who gave their lives for what they believed in?

My own greatest moments of triumph, as well as times of highest learning have been through the fires of failure or suffering, and at times—both.

Could it be that God uses suffering in our lives and even calls us to suffer from time to time?

We look at those who are going through great struggles and we want to rescue them—but perhaps that isn’t what God wants us to do.

Am I saying that God wants us to suffer?

That kind of thinking shouts against everything we’ve heard from people like Joel Osteen, who feels that God doesn’t want anyone to suffer.

But this is precisely where we need to look at Scripture instead of relying on someone standing at the pulpit of a mega church.

God is sovereign, and He does not call us to an easy life. On the contrary—He expects us to endure suffering cheerfully. Is that possible with a loving God?

Romans chapter 5 states;

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …

From this passage we are expected to encounter sufferings of various kinds. In fact, we should welcome them when they come, understanding that they are sent for a purpose—to help us grow in ways we could not otherwise grow.

2 Corinthians Chapter 1 states;

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

If we desire to share in the comfort of Christ, we are expected to share in His sufferings—and we are to do so abundantly!

As we go through seasons of suffering, we are drawn closer to God and to His purpose for us.

If we adopt the mindset that suffering is outside of God’s will, we need to understand that this is not a Scriptural view—it is man’s.

It comes from a self-centered, self-absorbed belief that God’s purpose is to provide us with bigger houses and fancier cars.

Perhaps thinking that God wants to cover us with treasures is more comforting than believing He would have us endure pain. But no matter how we go about it, we must ground our beliefs in Scripture.

The fact is that God really does want to cover us with treasures far beyond our imaginations. But He wants us to have those treasures for an eternity—not simply for the few years we have here on earth.

Matthew 6:19-20 states,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

But suffering for the right reasons is a privilege according to Philippians 3:10,

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death

But suffering is also expected as we read in 2 Timothy 2:3,

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

As is true with many things in life, there appear to be no shortcuts to integrity, nor is there a substitute for suffering.

Perhaps instead of looking for a way out, we should be thankful for suffering as an honored aspect of our Christian walk–the way Paul saw it.

We should take comfort in this—God knows exactly what He’s doing.