Yet, while it is both foolish and worthless to go looking for hardship, the Bible does tell us that it often comes our way – especially when we seek to follow Christ. So, when it comes, it shouldn’t surprise us.
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons." (Hebrews 12:7)
When Mike visits India he often sees Hindu "holy men." Generally dirty and dishevelled, they go out of their way to experience hardship or pain, believing that there is great spiritual benefit in doing so. For a Christian, the sight of them is dreadfully sad, for they are trying to gain by their own efforts what Christ alone on the cross won for us – something that none of us can add to or substitute for.
But actually, some Christians back home aren’t much different. They too believe that there is something particularly spiritual about hardship, to the point that they actually go out of their way looking for it. Others believe that there is more blessing in always choosing the hard way over the easy way. But actually, only fools go out of their way to look for hardship! And there is certainly nothing in the Bible that encourages us to do so. Indeed, following such a path shows we have failed to understand something about both the grace of God and the work of Christ.
Yet, while it is both foolish and worthless to go looking for hardship, the Bible does tell us that hardship often comes our way – especially when we are seeking to follow Christ. So, when it does come, it shouldn’t surprise us. Indeed, if we embrace it with Christ’s help, it can even be turned, Paul tells us in Romans 8, to our good. For hardship may help us, through serving as God’s loving discipline, leading to a deeper revelation of Him, strengthening our character, or bringing an opportunity for His grace to be experienced.
You may be experiencing some hardship at this time and may even be wondering what God is doing. What you can be sure of is this: it is all for your good and not for your harm. So tell Him today that you trust Him today and that you want to let Him do His work in you through the help of hardship. The Bible promises that it will turn out for your good!
"The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles." (Psalm 119:71, NLT)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont