Have sorrow, affliction, and misery flooded your soul? Perhaps, you are in the thick of your greatest trial. How do we make sense of bad things happening to good people? Perspective Number Three is: Suffering produces perseverance. The strongest steel is made in the hottest fire.
God designed the earth and created life in His image without sin. It was amazing. The land was irrigated naturally from the earth’s streams (see Genesis 2:6). God provided all that was needed to live. His blessing allowed mankind to be fruitful and multiply, as they exercised dominion over the earth. Significance, security, contentment, and control were all satisfied in a flawless relationship with the Creator. Then the first sin, known as pride, seeking satisfaction of those desires apart from God, literally caused all hell to break loose.
As a result, God did not end human life. Instead, He paid for man’s sin and remained in relationship with him (see Genesis 3:15). Now, each of us experiences sin by birth and by choice. This leads to suffering, which is pain, hardship, and distress, that God still can use for good. Here’s how He does it: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). God journeys with us through our suffering; developing our perseverance, or endurance; transforming our character; and providing us hope. This hope is not wishful thinking, as we often reference it in our Western culture. Rather, it is a confident assurance that God is continuing to shape us to be like Christ.
What suffering of yours can God turn into hope? This week, pray: “God, I give you my suffering. Though it is painful, it pales in comparison to the payment you endured on the cross for my sin. I ask you to give me perseverance as you walk through this journey with me. Shape my character to be like yours. Fill me with hope.”