“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
1 Peter 4:12, NIV

Some people become overly cautious about trials and try to avoid them at all costs. A man who heard that most accidents occur within three miles of home, moved because he did not want to live in such a dangerous place!

The Lord could not make it clearer. Being a Christ follower does not exempt you from accidents, malignancies, financial disaster, hail storms or hurricanes. Trouble is not an elective in life; it is a required course. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) If you have a pulse, you will have pain.

God is going to allow us to suffer. We cannot control that. But we can control our response to suffering.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

One reason we can rejoice in suffering is it deepens our character. Problems provide opportunities for us to grow at a rapid pace. Suffering expedites the maturing process. That is why we can welcome trials. But if we always choose comfort over character we will resent trials as intruders.

Tim Hansel was seriously injured in a mountain-climbing accident years ago and he now lives every day with severe back pain. In spite of daily adversity, he wrote a book entitled You Gotta Keep Dancin’ in which he relates the importance of joy in the Christian life. Hansel said, “Suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional. Pain and struggles are inevitable; misery is a choice.” Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make their mind up to be.”

QUESTION: What suffering are you going through right now? Are you growing through it or just going through it? Finally, are you choosing misery or joy?