Suffering is a struggle. It’s going to be a battle all the way, but how does this produce spiritual growth?
James 1:3 - 4
MODERNHEBREW - 3 בדעתכם כי בחן אמונתכם מביא לידי סבלנות׃ 4 והסבלנות שלמה תהיה בפעלה להיותכם שלמים ותמימים ולא תחסרו כל דבר׃
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Spiritual growth demands trials and confronts our faith to overcome suffering. This is a hard pill to swallow when a new believer is confronted with hardship, but when the believer overcomes the issue, he may look back and see more clearly a purpose for such a hurdle. We must find solace from our faith to confront that which causes us sorrow. We must allow our faith and spiritual being to be exercised just as one would lift weights to gain muscular strength. But there is another side to this sorrow causing growth that is not so easily dis-missed. When I was a younger man I lost a daughter. I begged for her recovery and begged God for His deliverance. Still, with everyone praying that she would recover, she was taken. I was crushed. The very God that gave her to me took her away. Though my words were tempered with a Christian -like glaze, my contempt for God smoldered within me. This was more than my faith could tolerate. I blamed God and found contempt for all Christians. I was wounded so deeply that I feared I would never recover. I became everything I had despised and would not hear the solace found in scripture. Jesus, by not answering my prayer had become my enemy. I was lost and falling deeper into a pattern of destruction and did not really care. I am thankful to say I have overcome my lack of faith in God. It took many years and many witnesses of Christ for me to find my way home. Yet now when I look back, I can see that God's plan reigned supreme. The thing I had lacked was something most Christians do not equate into their common core beliefs, and that thing is courage. When Jesus was in Gethsemane just before He was arrested, He shows the greatest courage to ever be shown by a man. I like to tell the story to my friends and acquaintances using a more modern verbiage in quoting the scripture.....please indulge my interpretation....... "I am really afraid, I know what's coming and it's killing me inside. I know I must do this thing, but Father, if there exists another way to escape this coming torment, I would like to hear it, but I am here for your will and not the will of my fears. I am afraid, but I accept your direction." What a courageous moment in our history occurred. The acknowledgement of fear and torment against the faith that the will of God reigns supreme. The courage to accept the hardest pill one could swallow and finding that that courageous act saved a humanity. This lesson showing Christ's fear of the future and His courageous decision to bare all in sacrifice taught me that faith must be accompanied with courage. Yes, trials may cause suffering, and memories may haunt us, but the courage to stand in faith and the courage to accept a direction contrary to our wish certainly shows spiritual growth. The suffering we experience today is nothing in comparison to the suffering at the cross. It is the courage to make the walk with our personal crosses that will cause our faith to ever grow......Dean Donahue, Show Low, Arizona
If people are never challenged, they never learn the full extent of the resources that they possess or to which they have access (both within and outside of themselves). It is dealing with obstacles or adversity in pursuit of a desired goal that allows people to fully discover and utilize their talents and abilities, and to develop perseverance, thus growing as individuals. Achievement of the goal itself also becomes more meaningful to people the more they have had to endure, or the more effort they have had to exert, to obtain it. In addition, if individuals are not capable of achieving the goal on their own, they learn how to recognize and draw on the resources that will aid in that effort -- in the case of eternal life, the assistance of God Himself (and, in the case of Christians, a God who is fully able to identify with their suffering because of having experienced it Himself). As the questioner indicates, suffering is not pleasant. But if it is experienced in pursuit of a worthy objective (and what objective could be more worthy or valuable than eternal life?), it becomes a means of growth that produces positive results for those who endure it (Romans 5:3-5).
Without suffering and difficulty, what reason would Man have to seek God? It is through adversity that God draws us unto Him and through failure that he teaches us to rely on Him. A friend of mine gave me one of my favorite quotes from his father: "I came to Christ out of fear. I stayed out of love! " Whether it be through fear of death, Hell or just pain, Christ can and does give us reasons to rely more on him, including Love! We also learn patience, humility, trust, Faith and so much more.
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