The fitness principle in exercise it that you have to put your body through a bit of discomfort, to work it hard, and then after you have recovered, your fitness level is higher than before. The discomfort you placed upon your body during exercise has made it grow. This is the only way it works. Sitting around in comfort will never get you fit.
This physical principle also works in the spiritual realm too as God uses it to help us grow spiritually as well.
God places, or allows discomfort/suffering upon us because He knows that through this, we will grow.
We will never grow spiritually if all we do is live in comfort all the time. It is during testing times that we have to depend on God. This strengthens our faith, allows us to trust Him more, helping us to grow.
In fact James 1:2-5 says:
'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything'. (NIV)
James is not saying the trials themselves are a joy, but to consider them a joy because of the spiritual benefits. To persevere means to be firm and strong in faith. This is what God wants us to be like.
Paul says in Romans 5:3-4:
'Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope'. (NIV)
Suffering is not easy! We are to rejoice in suffering and hardship, because we know that this is ultimately for our own good. We know it is not meaningless.
Paul says to rejoice in them, not in spite of them, as part of God's purpose is to produce character in us.
Let us begin to re-shape our thinking about suffering. To know that a little discomfort is for our own good. God turns these difficult times upside down, turning a negative into a positive - so that it will bring Him glory; shape us and mould us so that we may become more like Him.
Father, we thank You that no matter what difficulties we face, we are never alone as You are always in the middle of them; that suffering is never meaningless as You use these times to build us up and strengthen us; to give us character and hope.