After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
Originally titled, The Gift Nobody Wants, Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey delve into the topic of how pain plays a beneficial role in our lives. Likewise, suffering provides many opportunities that are not evident upon first glance or during the trial itself. However, here are some enduring results of the refining process which God uses in our lives:
Suffering provides an opportunity to grow in endurance. With each ensuing trial, the strength of our faith grows, so we are able to persevere instead of giving up. Just as our physical muscles grow stronger by repeated visits to the gym, our faith “muscle” is stretched and enlarged as we persevere “through the burn.” What we discover in our pain may be training us for our next season of life or ministry.
Since our own attempts to solve our problems have not been effective, we cease depending on ourselves and learn to depend more on God. We have less tendency to try to figure out the “Whys?” because we have come to realize God’s ways are unfathomable. When Christ suffered, He fully entrusted Himself to God and we learn to do the same.
Even when we are going through the worst, God can bring out His best through the fruit of the Spirit He is maturing in us. His grace manifest in our most difficult times reaches others. We are better prepared to comfort others with the comfort God has given us. Nor do we offer quick and easy solutions to someone suffering because we know how trite those words sounded to us.
We begin releasing our grasp on the temporal and material things as we begin to perceive and embrace the spiritual and eternal. We are reminded to set our hearts on Jesus and our lasting spiritual possessions. When all is stripped away, we hold to the sufficiency of Christ. He is enough!!! Consequently, we anticipate Christ’s return more fervently.
As our love for God matures, we pursue God for Himself, not merely to receive what He can give us. It is easy to proclaim our love for God when we feel blessed and victorious. In trials, we cultivate the art of praise even if the Lord seems absent because we have learned His character and promises never fail.
Timothy Keller refers to suffering as God’s beauty treatments. Similar to how Ester underwent a long process to make her physically lovely before meeting King Xerxes, the bride of Christ undergoes, as a result of suffering, a process to bring about spiritual beauty.
How can something broken become more beautiful than the original? It is similar to the Japanese art of Kintsugi where gold is placed in the cracks highlighting the brokenness instead of hiding it. We are cracked jars of clay showcasing the glory of the Christ.
Admittedly, my flesh, which prefers comfort and control, does not embrace these opportunities. My human reasoning keeps asking why this is happening and when it will end. But gradually, I am coming to realize even as my physical body is wasting away, my inner self is being renewed day by day, trial by trial.
For our light and momentary troubles are producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17
For more on thoughts on trials and testing, read “Rejoice in Trials?” and “Fact Check: Called to Suffer.”