Read James 1:2-4
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift,friends,when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure,your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed,not deficient in any way. (THE MESSAGE)
None of us can avoid pain and suffering and hardship. Following Jesus is no safeguard. After all,the one we follow had more than his fair share of these things. What we can avoid is purposeless pain,random suffering. James reminds us that the tests and challenges we face can have a beneficial result.
This in no way means these things are in themselves good or pleasant. It is just that they can cause us to lean more on the only one who can see us through. They can cause us to realise our lives are not ours to control,that life is lived on the basis of helpless trust in God rather than strenuous management of our own circumstances.
It is not pleasant to endure pain,but it is far worse if it is a meaningless experience. It is for us to learn the lessons it may be teaching us. These lessons may not be immediately evident,and things might not make much sense some times. But we can be sure God is working his good purposes out even if we can’t grab hold of them right now.
When adversity comes we can be overcome by it and sadly surrender to it. Or we can seek through our own heroic efforts to conquer it. Neither is recommended in our text today. We allow it to do its work,eyes and ears open to what God might be doing,crying out to God for his sustenance and support. We hold God’s hand in the darkness truly believing the light is coming.