By Donna Hughey

Being a follower of Christ does not mean our lives will be free from problems, hardships, or troubles. In fact, sometimes it seems as if Christians suffer more hardships than others. But instead of feeling discouraged or angry at God for our circumstances, our troubles can actually help us spiritually.

That doesn’t mean we should face all terrible circumstances with a smile or view our troubles as insignificant and unimportant. And God doesn’t expect us to. He knows, just as we do, that life can be harsh. But he does expect us to use our sufferings as opportunities to grow and remain in our faith.

For instance, suffering gives believers an opportunity to prove their commitment to God. By remaining faithful while suffering, believers prove the genuineness of their faith (1 Peter 4:12-19).

Suffering also gives believers an opportunity to become more dependent on God. By remaining faithful while suffering, believers prove their reliance on God rather than on themselves (1 Corinthians 1:8-10).

In addition to strengthening our commitment and reliance on God, suffering also gives believers an opportunity to grow spiritually. By remaining faithful while suffering, believers learn patience, perseverance, and Christian character (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5).

But that’s not all. Even when our hardships and sufferings seem impossible to endure, God promises his followers assurance — assurance that we can continue faithfully.

Some assurances from Scripture are: (1) God will not allow anything beyond what we can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13); (2) No temptation or trial can separate us from God (Romans 8:35-39); (3) God promises to always be present and to help us with our troubles (Psalm 46:1); and (4) God is our source for all strength (Philippians 4:13).

The bottom line is this: most people will suffer at some point in their lives, including believers. And even though some troubles are extremely painful and difficult, it’s imperative that believers don’t give up on their faith. We have to remember, no matter how difficult our situation seems, that we have something more powerful on our side than our troubles — the promises of God. And his promises include endurance, help, and strength for all who put their trust in him.

But best of all, we have the promise of eternal life. And nothing can take that away.

Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.