Part 2 of 4
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2
Last week, (and yes, again yesterday when I mistakenly resent - sorry!) we learned that in our trials, God's children suffer no condemnation. (If by some chance you missed it, READ HERE.)
So God doesn't condemn us in our suffering. But I don't know about considering troubles as an opportunity for joy. That sounds like a stretch. For most of us, troubles only test our faith. Yet we want to trust God has our best at heart.
"For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." James 1:3
Endurance, okay. Yeah, if my faith is tested, I have to hang in there. I learn to endure. But why is that even necessary?
God tells us how very precious we are to Him. As a perfect Father, He wants only His best for us. So why do we need to endure suffering?
Unfortunately, our sinful nature is not what's best. Sin tarnishes us, marring any reflection of God's beauty in us. Only when the Holy Spirit lives and dwells within us, can we shine God's glory to the world around us.
And like anything else - fine silver, burnished wood, or a gilded mirror - to shine and reflect beauty, we must endure a good polishing. Polishing requires friction, rubbing, and hard work. Sometimes, a chemical solution saves elbow grease. While chemicals may save work for the polisher, they etch the surface of polished object.
So whether God, our creator and polisher, chooses a stiff rubbing or a chemical solution, either way it hurts. Being polished is never easy, yet the process results in a clearer reflection of God's image.
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. " Romans 5:3-4
Okay, we've just gone from an "opportunity for joy" to glory in our sufferings. While that sounds unrealistic, let's focus on the results. Suffering builds perseverance - endurance and strength!
That perseverance produces character. Of course, we need strong character to be a reflection of God. But look what happens next.
Character produces hope. We all know the importance of hope. Even newborn babies who are neglected or unloved will lose hope. Without hope, there is no will to live. The human spirit gives up the fight and dies.
But when we endure through our suffering, we gain perseverance, character, and hope. Suffering makes us strong! And that's not all!
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12
Upon completion of our testing, God's children receive the greatest reward of all. He blesses us with the crown of life! Yes, everlasting life is God's promise to His children.
One day, our suffering will be over. God will take us home to live in heaven as His precious children. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He redeems us from the sin of darkness and suffering. When this life ends, He brings us into His beautiful paradise to celebrate with Him forever!
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." I Peter 2:9
As God's chosen people, we reflect His glory to the world. To do that, we must endure troubles with strength, character, and hope. When we show the world that our God carries us through every trial and tribulation, this brings hope to the world.
Suffering builds strength, character, and hope.
Let us rejoice in the strength, character, and hope of being God's child - His son or daughter - a prince or princess in His royal kingdom - His prized possession!
"And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession." James 1:18b
Next week: God's Glory Revealed
As we continue to study why God allows suffering.
Are you God's child? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?
Believe and accept Jesus to know for sure:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned..." John 3:16-18a