2 Corinthians 1:8a,9
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered…far beyond our ability to endure…9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (NIV)
I cannot be an authentic, Bible-believing disciples of Christ and reject the reality of difficulty and hard times. Jesus seemed to say that these two things will walk hand in hand down the narrow road leading to eternal paradise. Paul’s statement is compassionate as he wants them (and us) to know that suffering, on some level, is part of the Christian life.
Peter said it as well: “Don’t think it’s strange when you go through these fiery trials” (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus told us, Paul told us, Peter told us, James told us…it would seem like there’s something to this message. They understood, accutely, the danger of people beginning to follow Christ and abandoning the faith when trial hit. Jesus called them “rocky soil”, where problems didn’t allow a significant root structure to form and so the heat destroyed them. The truth is, unrealistic expectations always lead to dissapointment.
God loves us too much to let us think errently. He has given us the Scriptures which are replete with both examples and instructions concerning trials.
And truly, if our theology doesn’t allow for hardship, then it doesn’t include Jesus. He lived poor & homeless, His family thought He was crazy, His followers were fickle, His disciples deserted Him in His greatest hour of need, one of His closest friends betrayed Him, He felt intense stress and anxiety, He was falsely accused and charged, He was beaten, and He was executed. There is no way this life can be considered a life without problem, pain, or suffering.