Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
- James 1:2-3
Generally in life, we want to avoid pain. We want to be comfortable. Things like pain-free dentistry appeal to us. And so does effortless weight loss. We are looking for the workout that doesn't require us to, well, actually work out. And we want the pounds to just melt off without changing our eating habits.
But what is true in losing weight is true in life as well: No pain, no gain.
The pain that comes into our lives has its purpose. It reminds us of a deeper need, and that is our need for God.
Hunger pangs, for example, remind us that it is time to eat. In fact, I can set the clock by my stomach. I am hungry first thing in the morning. I usually eat breakfast before 6:00 A.M., so by 10:00, I am fully hungry for lunch, even when it is still another hour-and-a-half away. That hunger pang is a reminder that I will need food eventually.
Pain reminds us that we need God. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis wrote that pain "removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul."
God uses pain. And through adversity, we learn eternal truths that we would not learn otherwise.
As author Randy Alcorn has said, "If you base your faith on lack of affliction, your faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart because of a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call. Token faith will not survive suffering, nor should it."
Listen. The faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. God wants you to toughen up and grow up to be a man or woman of God. And that is what adversity in your life can do.