Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2)
It is vitally important for Christians to understand that God has infused purpose into our pain; when we do recognize that biblical reality, the key is to make sure we don’t waste any of our pain. As we all know from personal experience, life on this side of the grave is not all green pastures, still waters, and mountaintop experiences. All the stories you read in the Bible about the heroes of the faith are filled with one painful providence after another. So the question that must be answered is this: “What will you do with what you’ve been through?”
We’re all familiar with the phrase “growing pains.” As we grow up physically, we go through growing pains — times of physical and emotional awkwardness and discomfort — as the body is transforming from child to adult. This phrase “growing pains” also reflects a biblical truth for all those who are disciples of our Lord Jesus. Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). And where was Jesus going? To a cross, to die an unimaginably agonizing death in our place so that we might have eternal life by trusting in Him alone.
Regardless of the storms you have endured throughout your life, God has brought you through every one of them. He has used every wave of challenge crashing over you and all the storm winds that buffeted you to grow and mature you in your faith. Were some of these times painful? I’m sure they were! Were there times when you reacted to them awkwardly? Perhaps even angrily? I know I certainly have. But God brought you and me through those experiences each and every time. And I’m quite sure that even now you can look back on some of them and see how your faith was strengthened because of them.
Wherever this message finds you today and whatever storm may be battering you relationally, professionally, or personally, remember these words from our Lord Jesus: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). May that truth set us free to make the most out of every painful providence that God sends into our lives.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!