“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2–4).

WHEN WE SUFFER HARDSHIP, THE CHALLENGE IS NOT MERELY TO ACCEPT IT WITH RESIGNATION BUT TO “COUNT IT ALL JOY.” Recognizing the good that can come from what we suffer, we must learn to give thanks. Here are three thoughts that can help us.

(1) If we are to share in Christ’s glory, we must also be willing to share in His sufferings. Peter wrote, “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13). They took Jesus outside the city to crucify Him. “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).

(2) It is a privilege to suffer in Christ’s name. If it is honorable to suffer for a cause, it is even more so to suffer for a person. And when the person is none other than our Savior, no suffering is too great to be anything less than a privilege. We can be thankful anytime we’re counted worthy of such an honor (Acts 5:41).

(3) When we suffer for Christ, we are also suffering for the sake of His body, the church. Christ and the church are inseparable. Harm to one is a harm to the other, and benefit to one is a benefit to the other. So when we endure hardship, we need to do it, in part, for our brothers and sisters. Paul said he was glad to suffer “for the sake of [Christ’s] body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

The Christian’s attitude toward hardship is one of many things about the gospel that make no sense to the world. In the world, unpleasantness is evil and hardship is to be avoided. But in Christ, things are measured by a different set of values. Hardship hurts the disciple of Christ no less than it hurts anyone else, but the disciple’s attitude is very different: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7,10,11).

“Be of good courage, all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost . . . What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it” (Rainer Maria Rilke).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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