We sometimes idealize life. We wonder about how great it would be if we had no troubles. What if there were no challenges? Wouldn’t that be the life? It would be a kind of life, I suppose. However, challenges are what help us grow. We need challenges. We need hard times.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:1-5, ESV
Paul tells us to rejoice in our sufferings. He also tells us why we should. Suffering results in endurance. Endurance develops character. Character produces hope. And that hope is in our God. Because we have that hope, that confidence in His love, we can face anything because we know we have His forgiveness.
Let’s take a step back and focus on the personal growth. There’s a maxim of the world of chess that one learns more from a lost game than a won one. It’s a simple concept. The loss causes us to examine our actions and choices more closely than we would have had we won. As a result we think through the moves more deeply, are better likely to understand how the game changed for the worse, and therefore become a stronger player.
Challenges in life do the same thing. They force us to reach further for internal resources we didn’t know we had. They help us to put things in perspective. They cause us to grow in ways we wouldn’t have had we not faced those challenges. They make us better. And they can cause us to rely more on our Savior, deepening our relationship with Him.
Paul reminds us that even as we are suffering, there is a purpose. There is a reason to have hope. The suffering is necessary to take us from where we are to where we want to be if we want to become more Christ-like. Very few want suffering. Our Lord didn’t want it that long night as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He could have avoided it. He could have returned to heaven and rejected the Cross. However, He chose to embrace the suffering. He chose that path. His choice means we can be forgiven by the Father and saved by grace.
Therefore, if you are in the midst of hard times, look to Jesus for hope. Embrace His love for you as He can sympathize with us having suffered so greatly Himself. Know there’s a reason for your struggle. It’s not in vain. That hardship and pain is necessary for you to grow. Not only can you grow personally, but you can also grow in your relationship with our Savior. That is a mighty hope indeed.