When I was younger, I would often worry about a lot of things. I was very anxious and would find myself in a state of panic about little things — so much so, that I got it into my head that I would never overcome this anxiety. For example, I used to lay in bed in tears at night because I was scared of the idea of an afterlife. I knew that I would go to heaven, but the idea that heaven was something that would never end freaked me out. So for me, it was worry and anxiety that I would say I suffered through.
As I grew and gained knowledge of Scripture that talks about worry and anxiety, I realized how God allowed me to go through those things and ultimately use it to impact others. In fact, this year at The Wknd, c|Life’s annual weekend-long youth event, I was the small group leader for the 7th grade boys. On the last night, one of the boys told me that he knew heaven was a good place, but he was scared because he could not fathom being somewhere that did not end. And when he tried to explain this fear to his mom, she didn’t understand. It was so cool to tell him that I used to have the same fear and share with him the wisdom that I had gained through my struggle. It’s amazing when you see God take something that you suffered through and turn it into a way to share your story that benefits others for his glory.
I don’t know about you, but I have never found myself in the midst a hardship and been excited or joyful about it. It’s usually the exact opposite, if I am being honest. However, there are multiple examples of Scripture that tell us to handle it differently.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
— 1 Peter 1:6–9
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
— James 1:2–4
Personally, I hate working out, and I don’t do it very often. When I do, I hate it in the moment, and I hate the soreness that follows for the next few days. However, I know that after a while, the soreness will go away. This is how we should look at our trials in life. They’re temporary. Because we are so down in the moment, we forget that our trials will not last forever, and that God promises that our trials will make us stronger, perfect and complete.
I am not saying trials and suffering are easy. I am not saying that you should be excited to suffer. But I am asking you to remember that the suffering is not permanent, and God will give you strength to endure it and glorify him through it all. Or, as Kelly Clarkson would say: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.