“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn.'”
In life, no one is exempt from experiencing trials. As we go through our challenges, sometimes we think that we are alone in facing our struggles.
The church in Corinth had their share of hardships. Paul encouraged them to persevere in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 —
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Paul did not “sugarcoat” his reminder to the people of Corinth about the reality of their trials; Instead, he encouraged them to remember the faithfulness of a God in the midst of them.
Paul also reminded them that suffering is essential in our lives; we must always “carry around in our body the death of Jesus.” Why does he say this?
Ask yourself this question: What are the things in this life that we need?
We need food to nourish our bodies. We need water to quench our thirsts. We need clothing on our bodies in order to be well-adapted to the weather. We need shelter for protection.
These are just some of the things our physical bodies need in order to survive everyday.
However, not only do we need to meet the physical demands of our bodies; we also need to satisy our spiritual hungers. We all desire to strengthen our faith and to deepen our worship. Oftentimes, it is only through experiencing and overcoming suffering that we are able to emerge as people purified and refined by fire.
According to James 1:2-4:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James tells us that we should “consider it pure joy” when we face trials. Only through trials can we become “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Paul speaks of the fruits of overcoming suffering in Romans 5:3-4a:
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, Because suffering produces perseverance, character and hope, we have a reason to glory in our hardships.