Most days you are excited to be done with school and go home, but today is different. You are dreading going home tonight. Today you received your math test back from your teacher and it is as bad as you thought it would be. Getting a C- is acceptable for some parents, but not yours.
You run through all the possible excuses in your mind. “Dad, you should see everyone else’s grade!” Or, “I studied as much as I possibly could.” (Even though you know you could’ve put forth much more effort.)
Why do you take tests? Do you think they are good for you? After receiving a C- you probably don’t think tests are good for anyone.
But what if they are?
Tests are designed to measure where you stand, not force you to fail. When you step on a scale, are you mad at the scale when it gives you a number much higher than you expected? No, because the scale is only there to inform you of where you are. So it is with the tests you take. Are you learning math? Take a test and you’ll find out. Are you progressing well in science? Your next test will show you.
Consider the alternative. What would happen if you never took a test? Do you think you would study as hard as you do? Would you continue to prepare to be ready for the test that you know is around the corner? Most likely, no. You would slack off and pursue the easy way out. That’s the way you and I like it. We like our comfort and we hate anything that opposes our comfort. Even though tests show us where we are and encourage growth in us.
This is exactly what we experience as Christians. We don’t like tests. We don’t like to suffer. So most often, we avoid challenges and conflict as often as possible. We seek to avoid struggle in order to pursue that which we (usually) desire most: comfort.
Romans 8 shows us that not only should we embrace suffering, but that the very suffering we experience in our lives (and loathe with everything in us) actually serves as evidence that the Spirit of Christ is working in us. On the other hand, a life full of roses and comfort may serve as proof that our pursuit of Christlikeness isn’t actually Christ-like at all.
So when life gets hard and you have no clue how to even pray, remember that the Spirit of Christ is interceding for you. He knows what you’re going through and he cares for you. All things, especially moments of suffering, work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. His desire for you isn’t first comfort, but rather that you would be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18