” that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;” – Philippians 3:10 NASB
“I have never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now[in prison]. The Scriptures that I saw nothing in before are made in the this place to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now. Here I have seen him and felt him indeed. … I have seen [such things] here that I am persuaded I shall never while in this world be able to express. … Being very tender of me, [God] hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one scripture and another strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, were it lawful I could pray for greater trouble for the greater comfort’s sake.” – John Bunyan
My experience as a Christian, and I believe the teaching of both scripture, and Church history, show that suffering produces a deeper faith in believers. I have found the most difficult situations I have experienced in life have motivated me to pursue God’s presence and wisdom. In the darkest moments of my life I have cried out to God and have experienced his supernatural comfort.
I firmly believe that when difficult situations arise, God is testing (not tempting) us to help us to grow stronger in our faith and to deepen our experience with him. The Father calls us into the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus. None of us will ever fully comprehend the sufferings of Christ but some of us will enter into that sacred fellowship more than others.
Some believers experience prison, torture even death. Some have family difficulties and struggle in a variety of ways because of their faith. All I know is that God is ultimately in control of all life’s circumstances. Whatever the Devil is doing to bring destruction to God’s children, God is simultaneously working in the situation to Glorify his name.
During times of suffering we rarely see even a fraction of what God is doing. But as in the life of Joseph, Ruth, and so many other biblical saints, God is working for the good of his elect.