“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered (Heb. 2:9).”
A famous evangelist told the following incident: “I have a friend who in a time of business recession lost his job, a sizable fortune, and his beautiful home. To add to his sorrow, his precious wife died; yet he tenaciously held to his faith, which was the only thing he had left. One day when he was out walking in search of employment, he stopped to watch some men who were doing stonework on a large church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock, “where are you putting that?” he asked. The man said, ‘Do you see that little opening up there near the steeple? Well, I’m shaping this stone down here so that it will fit in up there. Tears filled my friend’s eyes as he walked away, for the Lord had spoken to him through that laborer whose words gave new meaning to his troubled situation.” – Daily Bread
We can relate to the man in the story. Some of us have been betrayed by our best friends, others have watched their own family members suffer from cancer, and some may have experienced an illness themselves, leading to mental or physical suffering. The gospel of James reminds us to count it a great joy whenever we experience various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. Doesn’t this concept seem contradictory to what the culture tells us? Don’t they preach to us that fulfillment is found in a beautiful family, a nice fenced in backyard, and a job that pays our salary and gives good insurance?
This wasn’t what our Creator had in mind for us. He doesn’t promise us, at least in this life, that our pain and suffering will magically go away or that we will live the American dream. Instead, in the midst of our storms, Jesus whispers to us: “I am with you. I know what you are going through. I took on human flesh and became like you in every way. Yes, life is full of difficulty, but remember that I work together for good to those who are calling according to my purposes.”
The man realized at the end of the story that the rock that was being chiseled, worked on, renewed, and shaped was someday going to be a beautiful piece on top of the steeple. In the same way, God allows the trials of life to chisel and work in us, but His goal is to sanctify and ultimately glorify us when we get to heaven. And yes, He does promise us in the new heaven and the new earth that all of our tears, frustrations, and pains will be wiped away and remembered no more. Aren’t you glad we have a hope and a future through Jesus? I am.