One of the main lessons I’ve been learning while in South Africa is that suffering that seems to be a nuisance is still building endurance in my heart. Most of the time, when I have to wait in line for a very long time, when my car breaks down, when communication is slow and sporadic, or when working with other ministries seems to handcuff me, I’d rather experience “true” Christian suffering than these annoyances. To me, that would seem “more spiritual” or able to build me up more in Christ.
But the Lord has been reminding me that any kind of trial is either an opportunity to worship him or an idol. If I worship Jesus, these mini-trials will build endurance, then character, and then hope (Rom. 5:3-5). If I worship Jesus, these trials will produce steadfastness in faith (James. 1:2-4). On the other hand, if I worship an idol (i.e. my agenda, punctuality, structure, details, etc.), then my heart grows hard, cold, unloving, and angry with God.
The apostle James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Every kind of trail, great and small, can be fruitful. The only question I need to ask is who am I worshiping during these trials: Jesus or myself?