This blog was written by one of our members, Joel Jensen. You can follow him at http://www.savedfromsin.com
Suffering. We have all been there. It may be a place of frustration and doubt. Perhaps a period of loneliness or despair. Seemingly never ending, and at times, downright uncomfortable. In these circumstances we may feel pressed to question our walk with Him in the first place. It’s as if He is no longer to be found in the midst of it all. Where did He go? Did I do something wrong? Why won’t He do anything about this? I am here to suggest that these spiritual valleys are actually blessings in disguise and are used to create a stronger relationship with Christ.
As long as things were going good in my life I had no problem worshiping or giving thanks and praise to my Lord. Yet as soon as things turned south I suddenly started to lose gratitude and trust in Him. It was as if my faith was firmly grounded only when I was experiencing the joy and peace that comes from being completely focused on Him. My faith diminished once I was in an unpleasant spot and instead became focused on how to get out of the pain. I didn’t even consider that perhaps God had a purpose for allowing suffering to occur.
I believe this is where we go astray in dealing with suffering. We become so caught up in using our own self-will, discipline, and strength to escape the pain that we inevitably turn away from Christ and His strength. We forget that without Him, we of ourselves are nothing. We become indignant towards Him. We resent this perceived unfair treatment as not being part of God’s perfect will.
Yet doesn’t growth and prosperity always tend to be accompanied by pain and struggle? Doesn’t the butterfly only spread its wings and soar once it has endured the hardship of breaking free from the chrysalis? Isn’t a diamond only formed after a lump of carbon has been submitted to enormous amounts of heat and pressure? Aren’t muscles given strength only after being broken down and beaten?
Instead of being resentful towards these types of situations, we should be rejoicing in the fact that these low spots are actually producing growth and prosperity in us. In fact, I am reminded of when the Apostle Paul spoke about these certain trials.
“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 NIV
Without our sufferings not only would we remain stagnant as people, but even more so our relationship with God would cease to grow. For isn’t it our shortcomings and repeated failure to produce good fruit on our own strength that which brought us back to the foot of Christ in the first place? Isn’t it the fact that we are able to witness Christ moving in our lives, through His provision and strength, that we are able to grow as followers?
No, I do not believe that the life Christ has called me to on this earth was meant to be one of unicorns and rainbows, a life of easygoing happiness. Just as it states in Philippians 1:29, we are not only called to believe in Him, but suffer for Him as well.
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,…” – Philippians 1:29 NIV
Therefore, do not be alarmed when you are faced with trials of many kinds. Our season of suffering will come to pass and we will once again be placed onto the spiritual mountaintop that proceeds the valley. We will be lifted up higher than before, strengthened, and rooted firmly in knowing that without Him, we are just as lost sheep.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast.” -1 Peter 5:10 NIV
I am grateful for my trials and tribulations today, because that is exactly what diamonds are made of.