The Value Of Strain

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There is a sense of longing for paradise in which there will be no more disappointment or even strain. But this world is not paradise, so we groan or strain.

Romans 8:18–23 (ESV) — 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Times of straining or difficulty may take us down for a season, but God gives us grace to get up and get back in the race of life, as we grow from every experience of difficulty or setback.

Proverbs 24:15–16 (ESV) — 15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; 16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

God assures us of the value in times of strain or difficulty. He reminds us that He is in control, and He works all things together for our ultimate good and that ultimate good in our lives is glorifying Him by being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:28–30 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

No wonder then He reminds us that if we are in times of great groaning, strain, or difficulty it is necessary for our good or it wouldn’t be there because the fire of the trial or strain is actually working to refine us and our faith, so we shine to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV) — 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

How does all this work for our good in developing our character, our faith, and our hope? Notice the process by which the gracious Savior is working in us and through us in times of difficulty so that we, instead of groaning or complaining, can rejoice.

Romans 5:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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.

The Holy Spirit is working fruit of sanctification in our lives through every circumstance, but we really see the evidence in times of suffering or strain when He produces endurance or patience, character, and hope as in the midst of the difficulty He pours a fresh grasp of the love that God has for us into our hearts. How great is that love?

Ephesians 3:14–19 (ESV) — 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

When focused on God’s magnificent love for us we are ready for the trials of strain, disappointment, or suffering that come into our lives. Focused upon Him, we can rejoice or as James says, “count it all joy.” Why? Because God is working all things together to conform our character to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. In particular, James mentions steadfastness to completion.

James 1:2–4 (ESV) — 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The bottom line is that strain is necessary for growth. Our bodies grow as we add strain to our training regimen. Our minds grow as we are taxed to think, reason, and learn. Likewise, we grow spiritually as we face times of strain, knowing that God has a purpose for each groan and difficulty, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, He is conforming us to be more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

To be without strain in life is to be without growth and to be without growth is really an indication that there is very little life if any. May we anticipate the strain of life by being in tune with God and His word.


Bob Brubaker

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