According to some people, believers should not suffer afflictions because God is with them. Suffering Christians are normally considered as sinners and that their sufferings are signs of their disobedience to God. This should not be the case because Jesus, in addressing His disciples, mentioned that in this world they shall have tribulations (Jn 16:33). Therefore, as long as the earth remains, none shall escape sufferings of one kind or the other.
Rejoicing in Tribulations
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas 1:2-4).
James encourages the church to be resilient in tribulations because as their faith in Christ is trialed, it produces patience or endurance in them. This does not mean that people should pray to invite affliction upon themselves but if it comes, it helps them to develop stamina in their Christian faith. Stamina does not come or developed overnight. People train themselves over and over for a considerable period of time for them to get stamina. For an athlete to successfully compete and finish his/her race, s/he would have to develop the stamina to help him/her compete to the end of the race because not all those who compete in a race finish it. Some of them faint along the way. The same applies to our Christian faith. This is seen in the parable of the sower. Here, Jesus mentions that some people receive the word of God with joy but since they have no root, they endure in the house of God for a while and when afflictions erupt they get offended and abandon their faith (Mat 13:20-21). They fade away because they do not have the stamina to endure.
Many Christians are not able to withstand afflictions because they were told either by those through whom they were converted, that Christianity is all sweet and problem-free or they misunderstood the scriptures. New converts and old ones alike must be taught and reminded to understand that afflictions shall come upon them but that does not mean that God has despised them. David writes that many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD delivers them out of them all (Psa 34:19). Conscientizing the mind and making it ready to embrace afflictions is a key to building resilience. In the afflictions, the Lord God is still with you. David again knew this clearly when he testified that though he might go through the valley of the shadow of death, he would fear no evil because the Lord God is with him (Psa 23:4).
Again, to build stamina to help oneself to endure afflictions is to look unto Jesus. Jesus was able to endure the sufferings and the shame of the cross because He considered the joy that was awaiting Him in heaven. It was against this background that Paul writes that the suffering of this present time cannot be compared with the glory that would be revealed (2Co 4:17). If believers look to Jesus as their perfect example, they would not faint in their minds when being faced with afflictions (Heb 12:2-3).
It is read that when pain and death were approaching Christ Jesus, He prayed earnestly for the strength to endure the affliction. In His prayer, He asked for God´s will in the situation and the Bible says that God sent His angels to strengthen Him (Luk 22:42-45). Jesus then told His disciples to pray so that they do not fall into temptation (Luk 22:45-46). In other words, He encouraged His disciples to pray so that they would receive the required strength to endure afflictions and trials.
Again, believers also receive stamina when they come together to pray and study the word of God. They receive new strength because they do so to encourage and support each other (Heb 10:25).
Believers would withstand afflictions in their lives if they would really know the person in whom they have come to believe. That is, knowing that Jesus Christ is a faithful God and that He would be with them in every situation in which they find themselves. They would need to prepare their minds to face pains and sufferings and look unto Jesus for their strength.
Prayer: May the grace of God keep you and preserve you as you face temptations and afflictions in life. May you be helped to fix your eyes on Jesus as you go through trying moments. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen and Amen!