A Closer Walk
Suffering seems to be common to our experience as human beings. Indeed it seems each and every person endures some sort of suffering at various times and in different seasons. And this certainly includes us, the children of God. We don't seek out suffering. We don't go searching for suffering. And we certainly don't ask in prayer for suffering. Yet, it comes our way. But our loving Heavenly Father doesn't leave us without hope. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance," James 1:2-3 NASB.
Notice please, "...WHEN you encounter various trials...", and not, "IF you encounter various trials...." So it seems that suffering will come, regardless of who we are, where we live, or what we do. Even if we don't ask for it in prayer. But our God tells us in the Book of James that we are to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials. From an experience standpoint suffering demonstrates to us that our Lord is still working on us. He is not done with us. And more importantly, that He has not given up on us. Trials let us know that our God notices us, and He continues to mold and shape us. We might wish that He notice us a little less, and a little less often. But we can take comfort in the fact that our God knows us better than we even know ourselves. Plus, He knows what He is trying to accomplish through us, with us, and in us.
We should consider it all joy because our trials confirm that our faith is being tested; and this testing of our faith produces endurance. Someone who is going to run a twenty six mile marathon doesn't just tie on his running shoes and step up to the starting line. He must train for this event to build his endurance. For some, running around the block would be the place to start. For more experienced runners they might start by running a mile, or even five. Once that is mastered they would continue to work and train until they were ready to run the twenty six miles. So this testing of our faith is used by our God to build up and strengthen our faith. And as always to make us more like Christ.
"And 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 NASB. Our God assures us that our trials and suffering are temporary. We will experience suffering “for a little while." The hard part is, God's little while and our little while may be miles and miles apart. Regardless, we are assured that suffering is temporary and that it too will pass.
Our God also assures us that after our suffering, He Himself will perfect us, confirm us, strengthen us, and establish us. Because of this we know that He doesn't give up on us. He doesn't leave us. And He doesn't forsake us. Ever. "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you," Deuteronomy 31:6 NASB.