Topic: Matthew 16:24-28
"God, if You love me, why must I endure pain?" This question preoccupies many believers in their darkest hours of need. While pain comes in different forms and has different durations, suffering always comes with an objective greater than our comfort, pleasure, or personal goals. If we seek God's purpose for grief, we will find both His peace and His deep love for us.
Pain instructs. Christ's sufficiency is more apparent during times of suffering than in the midst of blessing. Discovering God's faithful provision strengthens our resolve to endure.
Pain purifies. Counterfeit faith cannot withstand hardship's flames. Like gold in a refiner's fire, suffering believers experience the burning away of impurities until only things of value remain. Trials bring into focus the truth about the world we live in, the nature of the people we meet, and the incomparable worth of the Lord.
Pain motivates. Pain drives us to God. How often do we hear testimony from people who discovered Him during their worst trial? In His wisdom, our Father knows whether we require motivation from blessing or from distress.
Pain opens us to intimacy with God. At the end of our own resources is the Lord's boundless strength. Running into His arms guarantees us the comfort and energy that is available only through an intimate relationship with the Father.
Living an easy life doesn't earn rewards. Though our instinct is to sidestep pain, suffering helps us find intimacy with God and the great purpose He sets for our life.
Can you recall an incident in your life where your character (who you are) was "refined by fire", and you were formed into a better person via difficult life circumstances?