SUFFERING PRODUCES STRENGTH
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Listen to the podcast
To be discomforted in life is as assured as death and taxes. There are some things you can count on, and personal suffering is one of those things. It is part of the package that comes with the gift of life (Philippians 1:29).
Because suffering is guaranteed, it’s important to give reflective thoughts to how you respond when you don’t get your way.
What comes out of your mouth when you do not get your way reveals your “theology of suffering,” as well as your theology of God and your maturity as a Christian. Jesus was correct when He said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
Even though you cannot see your heart, you can discern your heart by what comes out of your mouth, and nothing will give you more clarity about your heart than those moments when you do not get your way.
During seasons of personal comfort, you can manage your words because there are no challenges to your personal desires. It is during times when you do not get your way that your practical theology will manifest (Read Romans 5:3-5).
Paul taught that your faith gave you access to the grace of God, and through that grace, you stand. The progression goes like this:
How are you living in the grace that God provides you? You can discern the answer to that question by how you respond to suffering.
Difficulties do not necessarily have a purpose in themselves. Suffering is suffering. Everybody suffers. Even the unregenerate world suffers. They become sick and die. They are in traffic accidents. They divorce just like the Christian community.
The difference between the unregenerate person who suffers and the believer who suffers is God. Though our lost friends experience the realities of suffering, none of them find faith, grace, endurance, character, or hope.
Christians are the only ones who can experience God through suffering because they have a relationship with Him and they understand that He is working in their suffering.
It is God who is producing Christ in your life through your suffering. Suffering does not produce godlike character qualities. If that were true, the lost person would mature through suffering like a Christian. It is God working through your adversity, bringing out His good purposes in your life.
You must choose whether you are going to fixate on your problems or center your thoughts on God, who is seeking to form Christ in you by the problems you are experiencing.
The words you choose to talk about your problems will provide the information you need to understand how your heart is getting in line with what God is doing in you. The God-centered heart produces God-centered language according to the model that Paul lays out in Romans 5:3-5.
This kind of person talks about his problems as one who is enduring through his problems–a person who is fortified even though suffering persists. You can understand the character of Christ by the fruit of the Spirit, which will be evident to others through your speech patterns (Galatians 5:22-23).
When you talk about your problems, what do you sound like most of the time: problem-centered or God-centered? Do you know the difference?
Ask the Lord to reveal to you each time you grumble this week. When He does, repent immediately.