Suffering hurts. We don’t want to suffer. But it will help us to know that there are at least five benefits of suffering for the Christian.
1. It tests our faith (Jam. 1:2-4). If we meet our trials with faith, we will develop the patience needed to mature spiritually. It is when our faith is tested that we grow and become strong. So, we can rejoice even in our trials. Do you remember how God tested Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22, commanding him to sacrifice his son? Can you imagine a greater test of faith? Hebrews 11:17-19 explains what Abraham was thinking. He believed God would raise his son from the dead. That is a great faith. Do we have the faith of Abraham? Will we trust God enough to do what He has asks of us? God wants to know if you will keep faith even in the greatest tests of life.
2. It prepares our heart so that we can be a comfort to others (2 Cor. 1:3-4). If we never know tribulation, we will never know comfort. If we never know comfort, we will never know how to comfort. How has God comforted you? Having been comforted by God we want to comfort others (Rom. 12:15). We know what God has done for us and what He can do for them. We have been through it and can help others get through it, too.
3. It humbles us before God (2 Cor. 12:7-10). We all need a reality check. We are not as great, strong, and good as we think we are. We can't do anything on our own. We all need help. We are all desperately hopeless and lost without God. Trials open our eyes, help us to see that, keep reminding us when we forget, and they cause us to look beyond ourselves to God who alone can provide the grace, strength and power we need.
4. It disciplines us (Heb. 12:5-11). We know God loves us when He disciplines us. His discipline is meant to help us to stop those things we are doing wrong and encourage us to do those things we know that we need to be doing. He only wants to bless our lives. So, don’t let His discipline and training discourage you. Let it move you to submit to Him, show Him the respect that He deserves from you, to be better, more holy, more like Him who loves us so.
5. It gives us an eternal perspective (2 Cor. 4:16-5:11; Phi. 1:21-26). It is easy for us to get too wrapped up in the here and now and lose focus of the eternal. If you do that you may give up because this life is full of discouragements, difficulties and disappointments. I don’t know about you, but I would have given up on the Lord a long time ago if were not for the eternal reward God has promised us. If I thought that this is all there is and had nothing to look forward to, I would just throw in the towel. But there is a God, there is a heaven, there is a better day to come. If you really believe, that is where your heart will be, that is where you will want to go, and Jesus is who you will want to see.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135