<<suffering, hardship, pain>>

All humanity is subject to trials because of the fall, and the consequences of the lifestyle they live (Gen 3:16-19). However, for the Christian suffering takes on a greater purpose. We should rejoice as these trials are opportunities for the reality of our faith and commitment to Christ to be revealed as the character of Christ is worked out in us (Rom 5:3-5, 12:12; Gal 5:22,23). Paul and Barnabas noted, “We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Act 14:22).

When viewed with a true perspective these "momentary, light afflictions" have the ability to produce the fruit of godly character that will last forever (2 Cor 4:16-18). Even when we can't understand why we are going through difficulties, we hold on to the belief they are working for our good and so we can rejoice in them (Rom 8:28,29). Even when we feel alone God is with us, He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble" (Ps 46:1; 1 Cor 6:19; Heb 13:5). The Bible says, "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those that love Him"' so, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (1 Cor 2:9; Heb 10:23).

There can be a variety of reason for afflictions, ranging from a direct consequence of sin and so are a judgment from God (Prov 11:18; Rom 1:18, 2:6, 6:23; Gal 6:8). They can be the result of a direct spiritual attack or because of persecution against believers (Eph 6:12; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Pet 5:8; 1 Jn 3:13). They can occur for God's divine purposes and to purify our lives and develop endurance (Ps 119:75; Act 13:36; Rom 9:17; Jas 1:2,3; 1 Pet 4:12,13).

Paul had more than his share of afflictions (2 Cor 6:4-10, 11:23-29). When he pleaded with the Lord
to be free of a “thorn in my flesh”, the response he received was “My grace is sufficient for you”
(2 Cor 12:7-9).  The Psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray” implying a benefit gained from suffering (Ps 119:67). God does not willingly bring affliction or grief, however adversity enriches

Does affliction bring out the nature of Christ in me?

our lives by sharpening our focus and refining our motives in a way that doesn’t take place in comfortable times (Lam 3:32,33,38). God says, "In their affliction they will diligently seek me" (Hos 5:15). 

Will I continue to follow Christ regardless of the severe challenges to my faith and spiritual opposition that would tempt me to slacken in my commitment to Him or even give up? It’s in the heat of testing that what is of real value is separated from the worthless dross (Ps 66:10; Isa 48:10; 1 Pet 1:6,7).  “When He has tested me I, shall come forth as gold” are the words of one experiencing enormous suffering (Job 23:10).

See also: against, give-up, hardship, hope, persecution, perspective, response, test/testing, trials, victim.