April 21
A Time to Suffer 

James 1

Yesterday's devotion noted that Joseph suffered 13 years before he was pulled from adversity. God could have fixed that mess more quickly or, better yet, prevented Joseph from enduring it at all. But can you imagine a 17-year-old boy skipping into Egypt and sitting down at Pharaoh's right hand? Certainly the Lord's power could make such an unlikely event happen. But would a slightly arrogant, ignorant Hebrew teenager make a good leader? Not until God made him into one.

Our suffering lasts only as long as necessary for God to accomplish His purpose. He is interested in equipping servants and molding followers rather than in providing carefree lives. Yet the Father deeply loves His children—that's why He shares in their hurts and limits the hardship so it doesn't extend one moment beyond its usefulness.

Adversity is God's sharpest and strongest tool for re-forming believers to Christ's image, but He will not force change. The Lord molds His children in proportion to their willingness to be shaped for divinely appointed work. We can refuse to submit to His craftsmanship, but rebellion only prolongs the pain. The wise approach is to say, "God, I do not understand why You have allowed this hardship, but I am willing to follow You through it."

The faithful child of God emerges from trials prepared and equipped to serve God. This is the believer who values obedience and prioritizes prayer and Bible study long before adversity comes. When the going gets tough, he knows that the Holy Spirit's power is sufficient to carry him through.

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