James says we should “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2) Why such a command from an early church leader? Because with each difficulty in this life, we grow up a little bit more and become more like Jesus. God ultimately turns our hardships into times of learning and growth. Yes, they can be outrageously uncomfortable, but they also teach us to persevere, making us stronger soldiers for Jesus and more effective for His Kingdom. So, bring it, because attitude in suffering is everything.

In the book of Acts, after escaping execution by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, thanks to the wisdom and timely intervention of Gamaliel, an elder and teacher, we read, “So they [the apostles] departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:41–42) 

Suffering did not dissuade them; it lit them on fire with blessed hope as they rejoiced together. It seems they remembered Jesus said it would be difficult, so they knew they were on the right track. (See Romans 5:1-5; John 16:1–4) They did not back down because of the conflict; they rejoiced and continued marching for Jesus and His glory.

Our seasons of difficulty are painful and often heartbreaking, but they are working for our benefit and our witness to others in the end. Paul also writes, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18) If we want to lead, we will suffer and often be alone with Jesus as we embrace His cross for ourselves in His name. 

Paul said, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…” (Colossians 1:24) We suffer as He suffered, but in the end, it is for the sake of another to know Jesus through our witness.