Lessons from Suffering Part II
"We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."2
In ancient times people used an instrument called a tribulum. It was used to beat grain in order to divide the chaff from the wheat. It's the word from which we get our word "tribulation." In the development of human character it's tribulation that divides "the chaff from the wheat." As we noted yesterday, the crises, or tribulations of life, can make us bitter or better. The choice is ours. Today's Scripture reading affirms this truth.
Second, to turn our crises into opportunities, we also need to accept and master our problems—not run from them. Most of us remember the story of Daniel being thrown into the lions' den because of his religious convictions. Imagine what might have happened had Daniel denied his problem, or if he had rebelled—and justifiably so—against being thrown into a den of lions and then struggled desperately to get out. The lions probably would have torn him to shreds in short order. Daniel didn't even try to defend himself—against the authorities or the lions. As terrifying as it was, Daniel accepted his situation. I can imagine him thinking, "I'm in this predicament. I can't escape. I choose to trust God. How can I make the best of it?"
Undoubtedly, it was the acceptance of his situation as well as his faith in God that saved him. Note, though, his faith didn't save him from the lion's den. It saved him in it! Sometimes, or even often in life, before God is going to deliver us from difficult circumstances, we need to find deliverance in them.
It is human nature to want to escape or run from suffering, but doing this doesn't help us grow, and sometimes we learn too late that what we escaped to is worse than what we escaped from. Unfortunately, we rarely change or grow unless we are hurting sufficiently. This is why James wrote in the Bible, "Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."2
To be continued...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, whenever I feel like I am in a 'lion's den,' like Daniel of old, please help me to accept my situation and fully trust you until I am delivered from the problems I am wrestling with. Grant this so that I will come out a much more trusting and faithful follower of Jesus. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
2. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV).