Canadians – and others living in the Western world – seem to be going through contortions to live a pain-free life.

This attitude seems to be creeping into the Christian church as well.

What sparked this thought was a comment by one of our daughters about the tendency in schools right now to never let a student fail.

I’m not sure what the educational reason is for this.  But giving students inflated grades is not going to help them in later life.  Eventually, they will have to face reality in the marketplace – and that reality may include failure.

I see much the same thinking in some Christian circles in North America today.

Many Christians feel that somehow we believers should be exempt from pain.  If we suffer, it must be because God has let us down.  Or, we have committed terrible sins and God is punishing us.

Yet the early Christians saw life differently.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers,” said the apostle James in James 1, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

And perseverance, he added, “must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

I must say that my first thought when I face pain is not about the value of suffering.  But ultimately I believe James is making an important point which should help believers persevere in the face of trouble.

He is saying that trials can help us become more like Christ.  That is one of God’s main aims in our lives.

God is preparing us for an eternal future with him.

As Christians, we believe that the world we live in is deeply flawed.  Satan is doing his best to destroy us as witnesses to the glory of God.  He has turned people against each other and attacked them physically and psychologically.

Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted for his sake.  But they were not to worry because he had overcome the world. (John 16:33)  He is victor over Satan.

Eventually, we will see why we suffer now.  We will see that Jesus was at work bringing good out of pain.

And we will rest in his love.

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