I believe God is training us to be a brighter reflection of His glory through hardship. However, in reality we despise God disciplining us because we fail to see the hand of God in the hardships we face. Often, we refuse to acknowledge that hardships have any good outcome or benefits for our spiritual growth. Thus, we live to avoid hardship, but when faced with an unavoidable hardship we try to pass through it by questioning God’s intentions.
All hardships has a disciplinary purpose in the life of believers, and pain is never wasted without a purpose. The difficulty lies in our lack of comprehending the connection between hardship and God’s purpose. However, God allows hardship as a means to enable us to pursue holiness. The writer of Hebrews said, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness” (Heb. 12:10).
If the purpose of hardship is for us to share in His holiness, then we must trust that God know exactly what kind of hardship to allow in our lives to bring us closer to His holiness. If you refuse to trust that God allows hardship for your own benefit, then you will respond in anger towards God, blaming Him for allowing unpleasant circumstances to invade our lives.
The purposes of hardship will not only allow us to share in God’s holiness but also produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. The writer of Hebrews said, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
I believe hardship is the means for our spiritual growth in which righteousness and peace is manifested through our character. Paul said that our suffering would produce perseverance and perseverance to character (Rom. 5:3-4), and James taught that testing of our faith produces perseverance that leads to spiritual maturity (James 1:2-5).
Hardship for each of us may look different than others because God knows how best to discipline us to share in His holiness. For some of you, your hardship could be a difficult relationship with a sibling that results in argument whenever you try to communicate or a difficult co-worker that seems to despise you and disagrees with everything you do and say. For others, your hardship could be dealing with the illness of a love one and you struggle to know why God has allowed such pain, or your parents are at the verge of getting a divorce and you wonder if they ever loved each other in the first place.
However, all hardships are not without a purpose. God uses them to train us to pursue His holiness by allowing us to practice patience in dealing with people, humbleness at the cost of being wronged, dependence when life falls apart, and trusting when hope seems to be lost. The irony of all this is that we thought we had patience, humbleness, dependence, and trust until we are faced with hardship.
God allows hardships in our lives for us to experience the strength of His sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9). Yes, the hardships are painful and we don’t completely understand it, but in due time He enables us to experience the harvest of righteousness and peace. Therefore, do not lose heart because we are being renewed everyday by grace, and what awaits us in heaven will outweigh every hardship we encounter on earth (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
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