“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
I’d like to say in my darkest times I considered it “pure joy.” I didn’t. Looking back now, I do see the higher purpose behind many of my difficulties and trials. Obviously, we all face times when the pain doesn’t make sense. Like in 2015 when my Dad found my brother dead in a men’s recovery home. He tried to do CPR, but it was too late. When he found him, he was several hours away from home. He called the coroner, and then made that dark lonely drive back home…alone. My Dad does not believe in God. I can only hope they had a conversation that night. It’s not something we talk about much….
But…even during this tragedy, I felt the nearness of our Lord. The One beaten, bruised, and violently killed for my transgressions…and yours. Along with the reminder that to be a Christian meads to suffer. To live with God means to die with Him too.
Nothing strengthens our character like pain, even when it is unfair and undeserved.
Believe in this. God does have a plan through it all. It will not be thwarted if we are willing to draw close to Him and hide in the shadow of His wings. And then learn what it really means to be hidden in the Lord. His most wonderful work in your life will happen in the shadow of your darkest times. Your pain is part of God’s pruning so that you will be “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Although His ways are higher than ours, many times our suffering is necessary so God can remove things in us that can only be worked out through grief.
Sometimes the tearing away of those things can be a painful messy process that seems to get worse before it gets better. Jesus illustrates this painful pruning in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
When you are suffering, reach out to the Lord and pray for the nearness of His presence in the midst of your grief and turmoil. The Bible says we have hope in Him, and that hope is an anchor for our souls. Here is what the amplified version says:
“This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells]” (Hebrews 6:9).
This hope is the only hope that is eternal and based on truth because it comes from the only One who defeated death.
We can count on in. We can rely on it. Don’t turn away from it when you need it the most. Christ rose from the dead and you will rise too if you believe and persevere. He is coming back for you. Keep enduring and you will see the light at the end of the cave you are in.
If you want to hear more about the trials we face in life, and what they mean, please check out my latest podcast “Seasons of the Cave – The Higher Purpose Behind our Pain.”