If you have ever played sports, or been a coach, you have heard or said the statement, “No pain, no gain.” The premise is that hard and painful preparation is rewarded by improved performance on game day. In other words, the price paid for excellence is pain; the pain of pushing yourself to, and sometimes past, your limits. Many athletes do not reach their full potential because they are not willing to put in the long and hard hours required to achieve greater and greater results.
It is human nature to avoid pain. But pain is part of life. It could be the physical pain of sore muscles after an extremely hard workout or the emotional pain caused by a relationship gone sour. Or maybe the pain you feel each week as you write out checks to pay your bills, knowing there is barely enough money to cover them. You, or a loved one, have just been diagnosed with cancer and worry and fear begin to set in. Whatever it is, pain and hardship are a part of life.
If you are a follower of Christ, when you committed your life to Him, you probably had this idea that life would suddenly become smooth sailing. But if you’ve been a Christ follower for more than ten minutes you know that is not the case. Jesus makes it clear that we will face troubles. Following the Last Supper Jesus begins what is called the Farewell Discourse, found in John chapters 14-17, in which He gives final instructions to the eleven remaining disciples. In John 16:33 Jesus says this – “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.”
So as followers of Jesus we can expect difficulties. There are many causes of the trial we face – the fallen nature of the world, satanic warfare, wrongs done to us, wrongs we have done to ourselves or others. We sometimes cause our own headaches through sin, carelessness, poor decisions, etc. Regardless of the cause of the trial, we can always be assured that God has allowed the trial and will work in it and through it.
The Bible tells us to rejoice in our hardships. “Say what?” In the first chapter of 1 Peter, we are given the reason we can rejoice in the midst of pain and suffering. We are not called to rejoice because of the hardship, but rather, we are to rejoice because of what the hardship is doing in us. We read these words in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
These two verses tell us that not only is our suffering only temporary, it is also necessary, because through our trials we are able to sift out what is genuine in our faith. When gold is refined, impurities are removed by a fiery process.
So how are we to respond to hardship? – Trust God, persevere, and know that God allowing your suffering for a reason and will demonstrate His sustaining power through it.
And remember, a faith not tested is a faith not trusted.
(We now encourage you to read 1 Peter 1:3-9; 4:12-19, and James 1:2-8.)
New Bern, North Carolina