Difficulty is so clearly a part of the process of experiencing meaning in life. All men and women encounter it. Anyone who wishes to swim against the stream know it. Jesus embraced it. Often the things learned from our difficulties and darkest times shape us in some of the most significant ways.
And even beyond the reality of the difficulties of life is the issue of suffering, and it appears suffering is an included and even designed part of God’s Kingdom plan.
Peter taught about it in 1 Peter 1:20:
“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”
Paul understood this and chose to be shaped by his weaknesses:
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
And Jesus chose to live in deep difficulty – ever day:
“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” – Hebrews 5:7-8
Pages 31-33 in Kingdom: Finding Your True Self unfolds the benefits of difficulty and suffering in producing Kingdom depth. While this seems very un-American (why would anyone choose to suffer?) it is completely taught in both the past and present of Jews and Christ-followers.
Sobering – but with a very amazing result (1 Peter 5:10): “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”