Imagine yourself sitting with an old friend at your favorite little cafe. After excitedly expressing how glad you both are to have gotten together after such a long absence from one another, you take a sip of your macchiato and ask your friend how she’s been doing. Her eyes suddenly fill with tears as she replies, “You know, I’ve been going through a really tough time.”
After she opens up to you about her work stress, her family problems or her physical ailments, you begin to share with her one of your favorite verses, which goes something like, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” She smiles, and both of your hearts are instantly comforted, even though your situations have not changed. What you feel is hope.
What I love about Philippians 1:6–the verse I just mentioned–is that the Holy Spirit often uses it to bring peace to believers, even in the midst of the hurt and chaos that plague our lives. The full verse actually reads, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.” This is a great promise because Paul is essentially relaying to us the fact that God will bring us through our hardships, which he uses to grow us (James 1:2-4), and when Christ returns, everything will be made right.
Of course, this brings along with it the possibility that our earthly circumstances will remain the same. Tomorrow, I may wake up and feel the same darkness I feel today. But it’s not the end.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
You see that? The afflictions we face are not only momentary—meaning they are not eternal and will end one day—but they are also preparing us for the indescribable joy and glory we will experience with God after Christ’s return. Our struggles aren’t wasted because, well, they’re getting us ready for what’s next. They’re preparing us for eternity, and they’re drawing us closer to Christ.
Let me be honest: without some major struggles in my own life, I don’t think I would trust God like I do now. I don’t think I would love him like I do now. And I really don’t think I would be seeking him daily like I do now. I am thankful for those hard times. I am thankful for every heart break, every shed tear, every dark day and every long night.
That’s not to say those times didn’t hurt, so don’t get me wrong. They did hurt. But in those times–in them and through them–God has shown me that he is faithful. In and through it all, I realize that I really am a sinner, and I really do need Christ. Even more so, because I trust in Christ, every hardship is a reminder that Jesus’ wrists were not the only thing nailed to the cross at Calvary.
No–my sins were nailed there, too.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
Because of this sacrifice, I can hold onto the hope of eternity.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
And not only that, but I can grow and persevere despite hardship, enduring suffering for the joy set before me.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that gthe testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
And in thankful response, I can share my hope in Jesus with others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Who can you encourage today with the comfort of Christ? Who can you gently remind that God will finish what he started, and there’s no reason to lose heart?