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God helps us grow even through suffering

April 28, 2023

Daily Scripture

James 1:2-5, Romans 5:1-5

James 1

2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. 5 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

Romans 5

1 Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness [or through faith], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Sooner or later, every person faces suffering. Some of it may be fairly minor, but other events can strain the very fiber of our being. The greater the suffering, the more we face the urge to write God off—“if God is so good, why didn’t God prevent or fix this?” It can be too easy to overlook this reality: “Rejecting God doesn’t change the situation that has caused our suffering; it only removes the greatest source of hope, help, comfort, and strength we have.” * That’s why Jesus’ brother James urged Christians to meet life’s tests as “occasions for joy.” And the apostle Paul charted the spiritual growth process through which every Christ-follower can develop a character that meets challenges, with hopeful awareness that, if we face it with God, even suffering can produce inner growth. God, both apostles said, has the power to bend even bad things to good purposes in our lives. God can give us the wisdom to bring endurance and hope out of our hardest experiences.

  • Neither apostle wrote through naïve, rose-colored glasses. They knew human nature is not at all inclined to view hard times as “occasions for joy,” as something to “take pride” in. That’s why they focused on God’s wisdom and love as the divine gifts that can turn our hard times into occasions for growth. When has God given you wisdom to face a tough challenge, or surrounded you with love and support for the strength you needed? In what ways does God’s ability to “grow you” through life’s challenges help you view hard times differently?

Lord God, keep teaching me to view life your way. Help me learn more and more how to value even the tough, painful times you can use to help me grow in endurance, character, and trust. Amen.

GPS Insights

Matt Bisel

Matt Bisel

Matt Bisel has a wife, Kelly and two kids, a daughter Linden and a son Olly. Matt and his family live in Kansas City but love to travel the world, experiencing new places, cultures and people. Matt studied literature and the classics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and earned a Master of Divinity at Saint Paul School of Theology. In addition to being a pastor, he is a musician and songwriter, writing and leading worship with the COR Worship Collective.

My mother-in-law had an amazing voice. It was beautiful, it was powerful, it was like some sort of sonic art. She had one of those voices that could wrap itself in a melody, fill a room and move you to tears. But over a seven-year period her voice grew weaker and weaker. She endured surgeries and chemo therapies until finally her cancer had “strained every fiber” in her body and her voice fell silent. My wife lost her mother, my kids lost their Grammy, I lost the best mother-in-law anyone could ever wish for, and grief filled the void left by her voice.

I’m a songwriter, so naturally I sought refuge from the gale-force winds of grief by going to the piano. Grief is one of those unavoidable sufferings in life. Even when you are grieving alongside loved ones, it is a long, lonely, and personal journey. But in the middle of my despair a new melody began to fill the void. It was a comforting melody, soft at times but ever present. It called my name, took me by the hand; it lifted me up and carried me on. David the psalmist felt its comfort in the shepherd’s staff. Mary Magdalene recognized it in the gardener’s voice. This Sweet Melody is Jesus. There are no depths that Jesus will not go to lift us up on his wings. There is power in his melody, it lives within me, and I’m singing on.

Click here to hear the song I wrote. It’s called Sweet Melody, sung by the COR Worship Collective with Sam Wells and Zae Romeo singing lead parts.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Hamilton, Adam. Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will. Abingdon Press. Location 350, Kindle Edition.