August/ September 2018 - Vol. 99
I have been reflecting lately on my experience of suffering hardships and trials and how God can use these to strengthen me in faith, hope, and love. Jesus stated that a grain of wheat must first die and be buried, covered completely, before it can bear fruit and become what it was made to be (John 12:26). I think that is an image of what God does in each of us as we die to ourselves, even in our times of suffering, and rise to new life in Christ. Jesus showed me that, because of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, suffering is now a gateway to hope. And hidden within the ground of suffering lies the treasure: the priceless gift of eternal life with God in heaven.
tested and strengthened by fire
in the furnace of this world
During some recent trials of mine I have felt a little like I was being bound and tossed into a fiery furnace, but I now realize more clearly that Christ has set me free. I can choose to walk in faith – to get up and live my life each day with Christ beside me, even in the midst of the heat of temptation. This is one concrete way I can witness to others around me. Satan wants me to be bound in fear and discouragement, and one of the best ways I can thwart his strategy, is to continue to pray, serve, and share the gospel joyfully, even in the midst of sorrow, pain, and suffering.
Because of what Jesus has accomplished through his incarnation, death, and resurrection, we are free to choose for eternal life with God.
response to suffering
In our daily life, the Lord will at times give us a foretaste of the glory that awaits us. As Paul says, we are being transformed “into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). For me the most powerful and richest taste of this heavenly reality has come in the midst of suffering because it reminds me that I am made for something more – for glory with God.
As I experience God bringing me through trials, I
experience, in minute ways, the redemption of my body,
from which God’s own life of grace flows, just as the
Psalmist promises will happen: “As they go through the
Valley of Baca / they make it a place of springs” (Psalm