Why does bad stuff happen to Christians?
Why do we get cancer and heart disease?
Why do we lose our jobs and face money problems?
Why are we persecuted because of our faith?
There aren’t always good answers to these questions, and we certainly don’t want to trivialize anyone’s pain by responding with a cliché.
But part of the answer is found here:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
Be joyful when we suffer?
That’s certainly not the natural reaction.
It’s easier to blame someone, to feel sorry for ourselves, to wallow in self-pity.
But it’s important to understand what James says about why God lets us suffer: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
The truth is, our faith never reaches its full potential if it’s untested. The believer who struggles is the believer who grows.
I’ve noticed something interesting about Christians. If you look closely, the people in the church whose faith is strongest are often those who’ve faced the most difficulties. Their past is littered with pain and struggle.
Some of you suffered last year, and you wondered why God let it happen.
It’s important to think about what he’s trying to create in you. If you kept trusting God, he used your struggles to make your faith stronger, deeper, more substantive.
Maybe now you’re on this side of the pain and you can see it more clearly.
But others of you are struggling now, and you’re wondering why.
One thing you can do is blame God, but then you’ll miss the lesson he’s trying to teach.
Another choice, a better choice, is to trust that he’s working out something in you that he wants to see.
Something that will be better, holier, more like Jesus.
I hope you’ll pray about this today. If you’re suffering, ask God to help you trust in him even when you don’t have all the answers.
If you’re not struggling, ask God to prepare you for the times when your faith will be tested.
The most important thing to remember is that God is always with us and that he always works out what’s best in the end.