Most of us in the early days of our journey with Christ asked the Lord to change us and make us more like Him. We want Him to mold our character so we can display the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Paul says in Philippians 2:13 that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” He is even more committed to our holiness than we are!
If our desire is truly to be Christ-like, the Lord will bring about this work in our character. However, we must realize the ways that He says He brings about Christ-likeness. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).
It is interesting that most of us when we start to suffer through some difficulty immediately begin to complain to God and others. “Where are you Lord?” “Did you forget me?” “You could prevent this Lord.” “Why aren’t you protecting or providing for me?” It is our natural instinct to flee or fight against stress and difficulties. But James says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Persever- ance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
These are hard words for any of us to hear. Yet, we need to take this to heart. If we really want to grow in our faith, know God more intimately, and become more like Christ in our character, we have to expect and accept that God often uses difficulties, trials, and suffering to change us. It is not that He delights in making us suffer, but He knows that we often will not give up our sinful ways and un-Christlike manner unless we go through these struggles. Ironically, we often blame God when we are actually the ones who brought the difficulty on in the first place. Thus, let us go back to Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you will become blameless and pure.” People are watching us. A response of faith and thanksgiving during trials could be the very thing that brings our family members or neighbors to Christ.
- Sue Corl (Read more in her Devotional: More Beautiful by the Day)