I read this verse last month, and I remember that my thoughts on it were along the line of, “It is good when I get to suffer for things that I don’t deserve to suffer because this gives me a glimpse into the suffering of Christ.” Is this wrong? No. The verses following reinforce that this is actually a gift of God to allow us the opportunity to share in His suffering, to walk in His steps!
As I read it yesterday in my quiet time I saw the phrase “mindful of God”, and I thought about what that means in the face of a real or a struggle. Am I being mindful of God in the trials I face? I think this is the most important part of a trial. You could say that it is what makes it worth going through, or a painful (sometimes literally) waste of energy and time. This is the mindset we need to have in order to follow the instruction of James:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. – James 1:2
If I am mindful of God, I am looking at His attributes and how they are going to be a part of my trials rather than doing the opposite. If I look at my struggles and the pain, discomfort, and hurt they bring while trying to see God through all of that mess, then I am trying to force that pain, hurt, and anguish into the character of God. My trial is pain, it is hard, it exhausts me, it can cripple me. How is this like God?
When I go through my life in contact with God through His Word and through prayer I am better prepared to face the struggle. My mindset is already on Him, so when the pain comes I might be able to see that it is coming and I can prepare. His Word will speak truth in to my heart that will calm me. It allows me to say that there is a reason for what is coming, or what I am in. He loves me. He is faithful – He won’t leave me in this. He’s my provider – He will meet my needs. He’s my Father – He will watch over me. He is my protector – He will not alow me to fall. He is my strength – He will give me victory.
I might not “deserve” my trial in the human sense of the word, but as a sinner, I deserve nothing. As a child of God, I am allowed to partake in the sufferings of Christ. It is not to bring me pain, or to give me bragging rights. It is to bring me closer to Him. To let me understand His love in what He did for me. He is allowing me an opportunity to live as His Son did. To hurt, but still follow. To cry out, and be heard. To die to my own desires, and to be given the victory.