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.
We all want to feel safe, secure, and stable in life. It’s a natural desire. Yet, as Christians, we will also face many trials, tribulations, and times of instability. As a minister, I have often been asked ‘why’ God allows such hardship in our lives. It’s never an easy answer, but I can always assure all who ask me that question that the Lord has great purpose in our trials and suffering.
In my experience, I have seen how our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe have a wonderful understanding of God’s peace in the midst of the storm because they have endured so much. In fact, the persecuted church is often the strongest church because in the midst of trial and suffering faith flourishes. In the above passage, the Apostle Paul clearly shows us that our suffering produces patience, endurance, faith, and hope. It is our trials and tribulations in life that produce godly character.
During the Second World War the troop ship Dorchester went down off the coast of England. The story of how the four chaplains aboard gave their life jackets to sailors and soldiers is now a national legend. They were last seen linked arm and arm with each other, praying as the ship sank. In 1974, this incredible act of faith and bravery was memorialized in a commemorative United States postage stamp. But the real story didn’t end in a brave act. Protestant chaplain Clark V. Poling wrote his parents just before the ill-fated voyage, “Pray for me. Pray not that I will be safe. War is never safe. Pray only that I will be an adequate man.”
Being comfortable never produces character. Striving for a comfortable life is not what the Christian life is all about. Quite the opposite. God’s purpose for us is to know Him, follow Him, and become more like Christ daily. And how do we do that? By loving God and loving others — seeking to grow and bear fruit in the midst of and through the trials of life.
May we not seek a comfortable life and instead, rejoice in the trials knowing that the more we reflect the heart, thoughts, and behaviors of Christ, the more people will witness the love of God for their own lives. It’s my prayer that we choose character over comfort whenever we are given the choice.
“There are millions in this world who are seeking
For pleasures earthly goods afford.
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.”
—Richard Blanchard, 1964, “Fill My Cup, Lord”
Jesus our Hope, cause me to be filled with Your love so that I may endure the trials of life. I pray that you ameliorate the pain of my brothers and sisters who are enduring the fiery trials of persecution, and that I may learn faith from them. In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.