You may have seen in the news about the recent attacks in Sri Lanka where a number of churches suffered persecutions and many people, including children, died. This really had an impact on me. I often feel down when I hear about those stories, but this is particularly close to home as it involves my parents’ homeland and I had the privilege to visit this beautiful country a number of times over the past few years.
I think this incident gives evidence to the question raised here: Is suffering part of our Christian life? As much as we hate to hear this, yes, we are called to suffer or go through some types of trials while living our lives, even though it might not be as challenging as persecutions. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”– Philippians 1:29
What are the main reasons we have to go through trials? There are a few very legitimate reasons. One of them is that trials test, purify and strengthen our faith. Imagine a life with no trials, nothing ever going wrong in our lives… Do you think we would even feel we need God, or feel like we have to pray to Him? Actually, how can we even build up a relationship with Jesus if we don’t feel we need someone to help us in our lives?
Another good reason is that they help us break off things like pride, rebellion, selfishness and independence. This kinda relates to the previous point. Sufferings help us to be broken and make us more dependent on God. Jesus has a plan in our lives and a lot of the time, this plan can only be fulfilled when we let God have his way, rather than our way and our plans coming in the way of what HE has called us to be. Brokenness can be great place to be!
Another thing I learnt is that sufferings make it easier to empathise with other people’s sufferings and be able to comfort them. To be honest, whether Christian or not, everyone goes through sufferings in life, whether it is a sickness, financial struggles, difficult childhood, divorced parents, grief or something else.
We can be encouraged that Jesus will never give us more than we can handle “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.– 1 Corinthians 10:13
Finally, we are asked to be “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12. We can be encouraged that we are never doing life on our own. Jesus knows what we are going to go through, and He also provides help and surrounds us with the right people while going through a difficult phase of our lives.
Remember, Jesus is never far from us.