We must learn to suffer well

  • Follow Your Faith

Suffering. Like a thunderstorm that comes out of nowhere on a bright, sunshiny day, so suffering enters our lives.

A bad grade on a test, the loss of a job, a difficult friendship, marriage struggles, addictions, sickness, the loss of a loved one, the list goes on. Suffering is everywhere. And if you’re not in the middle of it today, get ready, because storms are forecasted.

Now, if you’re like me, at the first sign of the storm (like the first raindrop) you want to run and hide. You want to get away from the storm.

But what if there is a better response? What if fleeing suffering isn’t the answer?

James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, says this about suffering: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials (suffering) of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Most people can’t get past the first few words of James’ statement, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials ….”

The thought of considering trials and suffering not only joy but pure joy trips us up and keeps us from reading any further.

It seems backward. But read on and you learn that suffering gives us the ability to persevere, and this God-given character trait then leads us to be “mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

James isn’t trying to explain suffering; he’s simply telling us that suffering is usable by God for his purposes – namely to grow us and mature us into his image.

I believe we can learn not only to suffer, but to suffer well. This is what James is revealing to his readers. And we must remember that for James and every other New Testament writer, their example of one who suffered well was Jesus himself.

He endured the cross. He persevered through suffering.

He considered it pure joy to give up his life for the sake of something greater.

May we be those who, like Jesus, suffer well.

THE REV. JOHN KENNEY IS THE PASTOR OF THE QUEST CHURCH, A UNITED METHODIST CONGREGATION IN MARTINEZ.

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Jane18
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Jane18 03/17/12 - 08:01 am
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Wouldn't you back up your

Wouldn't you back up your verse with 1Cor.10:13?

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/19/12 - 06:49 am
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"There hath no temptation

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it. "

Jane18, verser 1 Cor. 10:13 is excellent and comforting but I believe what James is speaking about are trials and hardships we go through to learn dependence on God and to grow us. In Corinthians it is speaking of temptations of this world. Although I suppose temptations could come to us during our trails, but I believe trials and temptations are two separate things. God may give us trials, either to grow us or to get our attentions, but God never gives us temptations. James 1:13 says "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;"

It's just wonderful to know that even through our trials and when we are tempted, God is always there to see us through it.

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