A thought came to me, I find myself assessing what my answer to this question is today in my walk and God brings a tidbit to ponder.
We are told by Paul, James and Peter that suffering has value (Rom 5:3-5, Ja 1:2-5 and 1Pe 1:6-8) in a Christians life - God's love poured out in our heart by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of righteousness and our faith being able to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
What IF trials/struggles/difficulties serve to separate the Christian (living His life) from the people that are with the program but not yet of His life - perhaps through no fault of their own. There are Christians that have never really heard about the Spirit filled life. Many heard that it is for those 'charismaniacs' and is not Biblical. Many do not know that they actually ARE a new creation with HIS life living in them, that their life died 2000 years ago on a cross when Christ drew ALL MEN into Himself. Maybe they have been introduced to the Holy Spirit but do not know how to live His life, this life that costs them EVERYTHING.
What if suffering, in part, serves to help these people come to the end of themselves? What if it reveals their place and struggle? NOT for condemnation but for the correction that the Holy Spirit brings that they CAN live this new creation life that is now theirs not in their power, ability or strength but in their simple trusting Him who brought them here to walk them through.
I think those that struggle apart from His life within, when faced with trials may turn from Him. They may see Him as demanding. May find a way to medicate the pain of the reality of their inability. I think some may not hang on in the trial and may turn away. I know that in these times there is opportunity to actually meet the God of the Bible and His ability.
So what if the struggles, the refining fire, the crucible brings some to LIFE as they embrace their self-death in His Life in them and brings others to consider their spirit as dead as they embrace their self-life? What if the purpose of suffering is truly to cost US (me, my flesh, my desires, my expectations and standards) EVERYTHING. It costs every remnant of the flesh, the life that WAS lived so that His new life within is the ONLY life manifest through us?
Am I there yet? No! That is an emphatic 'no'. Yet I am further along at identifying those self-life lies that cause me to protect self and prevent His life from being released. The I cant's I wont's, I don't wanna's, the it's not fair, the why me God voices that derive from my flesh. Yet, am I on the way and do I see the value of suffering in causing this growth to take and flourish? Yes, I do and I believe that is why Jesus said that 'in this world you will have tribulation yet I have overcome the world.' KNOW trials come. KNOW they have value. I think 2 Cor 2:14-16 pictures it well... Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place, for we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death and to the other the aroma of life leading to life."
Lord, as You bring me to the end of myself may I learn to trust Your life within. May I submit to it. May I put off the desires of the flesh and walk only in the newness of life, by Your ability. Teach me Lord, for Your child is listening.