|Is it true that suffering can shape us? How does it shape us?
For 17 years, I didn’t know how suffering could shape my life. After going through the Cambodian Genocide (1975-1979 – 3 years, 8 months and 20 days), my life would never be the same again. I was shaped by the hardships I faced.
Here are 5 truths God taught me about suffering:
1. Suffering produces godly character in us.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3,4). Suffering shapes us to be more Christ-like.
2. Suffering permits us to identify with Christ’s suffering.
“…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). When we suffer for Christ’s sake, we can relate with His suffering and draw strength and comfort from that.
3. Suffering prompts us to depend on God.
“In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Any kind of suffering prompts us be more dependent on God. This causes us to cry out for His help.
4. Suffering provides us with opportunities to grow.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:2,3). I’ve noticed that when we experience hardship, it helps us to mature. Like sunlight causes every plant to grow, in the same way, suffering cultivates growth in our faith.
5. Suffering proves our faith to be genuine
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6,7). We will never be able to know or prove that our faith is genuine until we face suffering or persecution.
May these truths bless us and continue to bear fruit in us for God’s kingdom and glory.