I’m still thinking about Ronnie Smith’s death in Libya, followed by Christians and the mainstream media alike.
Two days before he died, my mind turned, at it so often does, to the reasons for suffering. This time the thoughts were triggered by the difference between suffering that refines in this life and suffering that leads to death.
Suffering That Refines
Often, when counseling people who are walking through suffering, I lean on Bible passages that describe the effects of suffering in this life — passages like, James 1:2–4.
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.
The point here is that our suffering will be like the pain of weightlifting: It will make us stronger to bear things that might otherwise destroy us.
Or Romans 5:3–5:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces tested character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.