Mya Hudgins, Faith Editor
Many Christians expect the life of following Jesus to be simple, easy and a connection with Christ that is unswayable. The truth is, it’s hard, full of faith, trust and struggles. Many people may wonder how can I suffer when I am a Christ follower. In the Bible, it never says life will be easy. Instead, many of the people who loved Jesus the most suffered a lot.
For example, take Acts 16:16-40. This chapter is about Paul and Silas being thrown in prison. Paul wrote about Jesus and many books of the Bible. He admired Christ and loved him. In these verses, a girl was following the two men around yelling “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This went on for days. Paul was tired and annoyed so he turned around and cast the spirit out of her. For that reason right there, both Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. The good news is, Paul and Silas never lost sight of their faith and Christ set them free from prison. Now, this might not look like suffering to us nowadays, but it definitely was. Today many people suffer with money, friendships, parents, jobs, school, suicide, heartbreaks and many other things. Suffering can control us at times, we can let our circumstances change us and our beliefs.
Your question may still remain, why do we have to suffer if we know Christ loves us? In James 1:2-4, we can see a reason directly from Christ on why we suffer. “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.” The first sentence of this verse may throw you off a little bit.
“Count it all a joy.”
What? A joy? That doesn’t make sense. Who wants to be joyful when they are going through something hard. God tells us when we go through hard times, it’s because God is testing our faith so it becomes stronger. It is so easy to lose all faith in God when something bad happens. As humans, we are the first ones to run to our friends and talk about what bad thing is happening in our life, when in reality we should be running towards Jesus for prayer.
What does “steadfast” mean? According to dictionary.com it means “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. So, let’s rewind a little. Basically, God is telling us to have joy even when we are having a bad day or going through a time of suffering. When we suffer, God is testing our faith. But He doesn’t just want a low level of faith, he wants a faith that is unwavering or grounded. When we are SUFFERING God is making our faith UNWAVERING. This does bring Joy. Christ wants us so grounded that when anything comes our way, we know that our faith can withstand anything. The last part of the verse says we will be complete, lacking in nothing. A life time of struggles and pain will bring us perfectness and being complete because our faith is so strong not a single worry comes to mind.
This past year I had a testing of my faith. I was having really bad back pain, and it seemed like no one knew what was wrong. I run cross country and track here at OBU, so you can imagine, I was pulled from running. This was the first thing I began to struggle with. I desired to run, but it seemed like it was pulled away from me. As the months went on, the pain became more present in my day-to-day life, sitting, standing, bending down and more. As the school year came to an end, I was in so much pain and didn’t understand what I did wrong to deserve this. In late July, I was told I would be needing major back surgery in August. As an 18 year old I was terrified.
What teenager has to have major back surgery? I was worried and scared.
What if I couldn’t run again? What if it went wrong and I couldn’t even walk?
Those were just a few of the many worries I had. Now, three months post-surgery, I am doing better than expected. I was released to do low-level activities a month and a half earlier than expected. I’m not saying by no means this was easy. During this time, I had a big wake up moment from God.
First, I realized this talent I had was from God and He can take that away if He wants. I was reminded that even if I lose everything, at least I still have my faith. As I meditated on this, I put the things I was worrying with in the “blank…” even if I lose running, walking, school, health and many other things, I know my faith still remains in Him. None of those things are my identity, but instead my identity lays in the name of Christ.
Paul and Silas remanded in Christ and they were freed. God will always show himself in your darkest moments if you allow him too. Sometimes all it takes is a little growing of faith. This past summer my faith has grown even more, and I learned so much. If I had the opportunity to be healthy and never have gone through the surgery and the trials… I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. When you come out of the dark trial and see where you started, you can’t help but have a smile on your face because your steadfast faith is one step closer to being completed and perfect. It takes strong Christians to lead this world in love, wisdom, faith and trust. Next time you struggle with something in life, remember your one step closer to being the person that God is wanting you to be.