God can use the darkest and most challenging times in a person's life for good, says Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren.
In a message posted on his Daily Hope devotional on Friday, the best-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Life offered a meditation based on the Bible verses 2 Corinthians 1:8b–9, which reads: "We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead."
Warren wrote that everyone, including Jesus Christ when He walked on the Earth, endured loneliness, discouragement, suffering and criticism.
"None of us are exempt from suffering, loneliness, discouragement, or unjust criticism, because God is developing within us the character of Christ, and, in order to do this, He must take us through all of the circumstances in life which He took Christ through," noted Warren.
"Does this mean God causes tragedies? No. God is good, and He will not cause evil or do evil. But God can use dark and stressful times for good. He'll use them to teach us to trust Him, to show us how to help others, and to draw us closer to other believers."
Warren added that for those undergoing tough times, they should first of all "refuse to be discouraged" and then "remember God is with you."
"We all go through difficult times. The difference for those who believe in Jesus is not the absence of the shadow but the presence of the Light," concluded Warren.
This is not the first time that Warren has addressed the topic of what to do during times of personal distress or suffering.
In a Daily Hope entry from November of last year, Warren reasoned that "the Bible says sometimes suffering is God's will for your life" as it "makes you more like Jesus."
"It deepens your faith. It brings you rewards in Heaven. It builds your character. It teaches you to worship instead of worry," Warren said last year.
"No matter what arrows are thrown at you, no matter what you suffer in this life because of your faith, God wants you to remain faithful to him and keep on doing good to others. Is that easy to do? Not always. Does it take faith? Definitely. Is it worth it? Absolutely."