In life, we will face many trials. Some are exciting, but most are painful. A trial I endured not too long ago was moving from my hometown in Tennessee to South Florida. I left all that was familiar behind me and it led to a lot of anxiety. I didn't know what to expect when I got here, but I knew God would be with me on this journey to Miami. It is important to point out that suffering is a natural part of the Christian life.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to teach us on suffering from the trials he endured. After being shipwrecked, attacked by murderous mobs, beaten, starved, imprisoned, and betrayed by friends, Paul’s letters on suffering show fellow believers how one should handle trials and depend on Jesus to get them through.
Paul shows a deep humility as one who has learned valuable lessons from his following Christ. In his letter to the church of Corinth, Paul says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Suffering is not brought up enough in our small groups or personal discipleship relationships. Because the topic of suffering can bring up messy things, it is often neglected in general. However, it is important for every follower of Christ to understand and embrace the purpose of suffering so when he or she faces trials, they will endure as Paul has modeled for us in his writings to the church.
"We are at our greatest when we have a spirit of humility and a willingness to learn from what God is teaching us in our personal lives"
What amazes me with Paul was his ability to rejoice amidst the trials he was suffering. Look at what Paul said about the trials that he faced, “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:10). J.I. Packer, a popular author and Christian theologian wrote in his book 2 Corinthians, “In the midst of all these trials, God not only sustained him, but filled him with such a heroic spirit that he rejoiced in being afflicted like this. I delight, he says, in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (12:10).”
We are at our greatest when we have a spirit of humility and a willingness to learn from what God is teaching us in our personal lives. When I embarked on my new journey to Miami, I feared the future. But taking this new journey with God caused me to depend on Him more and seek His face with more persistence, leading me to grow in my faith. Trials and sufferings cause us to depend on God, and stretch and challenge us to grow in our faith. My hope is that we would depend on the Lord for whatever He has planned for us, and at the end of our life hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)
Donnie Nelson is not only passionate about Gospel proclamation and blogging, but desires to encourage others in their discipleship relationships to bring glory to Christ. When he is not serving as a hospice chaplain or working towards his theological research degree, Donnie enjoys the beach, running, reading, coffee gains, and watching college football. Go Vols!!