In scriptures we see references to tribulations and long-suffering as part of our development as Christians.
Look at Romans 5:3-5 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)
Here, Paul is telling us that he not only walks through the toughest of times, but he glories in tough times because it’s the mechanism that helps us break our self-reliance and show us the way to fully trust God. Practically, it’s also the way to build patience, experience, and most importantly hope.
1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us that trying times refine our faith — “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (ESV) Troubles put our faith to the test and when we learn to turn to God first, pray, search scriptures, lean on Him instead of searching out earthly/worldly responses to spiritual issues, then we really are walking worthy.
A sampling of other scriptures dealing with troubles or suffering as a path to a closer walk with God include (each quoted from ESV):
- 1 Peter 5:10 – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
- James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
- Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
- John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
- Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- James 1:2-8 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. …
- Psalm 34:17-18 – When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 4:16 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
- Psalm 34:19 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
So we ought to acknowledge that troubling times serve a purpose and we are refined by these experiences – so long as we walk worthy, trust God and let the Holy Spirit work in and through us.