Long story short, a completely bleached house does not a good immune system make.
Nor does a life sanitized of suffering lead to good character.
LIFE ON EASY STREET
We live in a time in the world where you can pretty much set yourself up to have quite an easy life. As Americans, we are the most isolated, comfort-driven nation, probably in the history of the world. We can "have it your way" in virtually every area of our lives, big or small.
- Don't like the city you live in? Move!
- Don't like your spouse? Get a new one.
- Don't like your car? Trade it in!
- Friendship get uncomfortable? "Defriend" them (on Facebook) and avoid all contact.
- Don't like the inconvenience of pregnancy? Avoid the hassle through any number of available methods!
- Don't like your boss? Put in your notice and look elsewhere.
- Don't like the service you received? Complain!
- Don't like feeling variances in temperature? Set your thermostat so you always have it precisely where you like it.
- Don't get along with someone at your church? Find a new one.
But there's just one problem with this-- as Christians, God has built suffering into our lives for good and godly and GLORIOUS purposes:
- Suffering teaches us to how to endure with hope.
- Suffering with Christ is a witness that we really are children of God.
- However heavy the suffering is, the weight of it can remind us of just how much more glorious the coming days will be.
- Suffering reveals our shared humanity and gives us the opportunity to act as the body of Christ.
- Going through times of suffering teaches us how God comforts us, so that we can comfort others with that same God-given comfort.
- It is a gift to not only be able to believe in Christ, but to suffer for Him.
- Suffering gives us new eyes to see that so many things we value are really as rubbish in comparison with knowing Christ.
- Suffering is part of God's boot camp and trains us to be stronger.
- Times of suffering give us reference points of God's faithfulness to prepare us for future suffering, and remind us to look with joy towards His future eternal faithfulness.
- Suffering drives us to prayer.
- Everyone suffers, whether for foolish things or good things. If it's God's will that you suffer, it's better that it be for doing good.
- Suffering reminds us that we aren't in control, and that we can rejoice in Christ-- the bearer of the Name Above All Names.
- Suffering unites us with hurting Christians around the world and can quicken our minds and hearts to pray for them.
Please hear me-- I'm not saying we should seek to suffer. Nor that we should never seek to change a situation if there is pain or discomfort.
But what I am saying is that when your marriage relationship is discouraging, or when there is no fruit on the vine of your life, or when you've been publicly humiliated, or when sickness has taken hold, or when a relationship gets extremely uncomfortable, or when you suffer deep loss, or when there seems to be nothing left, or when it would just be easier to leave and find a new church, or when everything looks bleak, or when you lose your job, or when you have overdrawn your account, CHRIST IS THERE. HE knows suffering. HE bore suffering. He will walk with you and teach you unspeakable things in some of the lowest moments if you'll let Him.
Don't be tempted to sanitize suffering out of your life... pray. Look for what He will do. Be patient. Don't run from it-- endure! Read of His sufferings. Dare to hope. Cling to Christ!