As Christians, we aren’t exempted from the difficulties of this life, even if some think we should be. If we have the expectation that our faith should shield us from problems, struggles, and suffering, this can lead to somewhat of a martyr complex when things go wrong, until we start to wonder, How could anyone possibly have it more difficult than I do?
If you feel like that, it might help to look around at what others, believers and nonbelievers alike, have to endure. You may find some who seem better off physically than you at the moment, but a lot of people are also so much worse off in ways that are very important, such as lacking the bare necessities of life.
Even though Christians face similar physical struggles to others and have lots of problems, at least we can usually understand from God’s Word that there’s a good reason for them, a divine purpose at work behind it all. Even when we can’t see any immediate good coming from our trials, they have the potential to teach us lessons and make us stronger. That alone makes them easier to bear.
Some people struggle for years with afflictions, or under a difficult employer, or at a job they hate. Others, both Christian and non-Christian, are ridiculed and criticized and rejected by others, or even openly persecuted for what they stand for. As Christians, we can often understand the ways that even our hardships serve to help us, but non-believers don’t have the comfort of a Savior who can help them make sense of what they suffer through. We may have a lot of difficulties, but our lives would probably seem comparatively easy to so many who face life without the sense of purpose that our faith provides.
We learn and grow from our troubles. Our struggles teach us how to have more patience, how to hold on, how to cling to God’s promises and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!”1—not just for one day or one week or one month, but perhaps for many months or years at a time.
Paul went so far as to tell us to “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”4
We may sometimes have extended periods when we’re not able to go on our feelings at all because things are going badly and we’re feeling pretty rotten, but that’s when we have to cling to the facts of God’s Word, that He still loves and still cares, no matter what we feel like. Even when absolutely everything seems to have turned against us or be going wrong, we can trust that good will triumph in the end, and Jesus will be victorious.