When we think of how to grow in our faith, we tend to think of what we can do practically to grow. Bible reading, prayer, going to church, etc. come quickly to mind. These things are absolutely indispensable to our growth and yet Psalm 119 points out a surprising way to grow that we often forget.
Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” A few verses later, verse 71 says this, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” What this is saying is that one of the main ways we grow in our faith is through the sufferings that we go through. I have talked to so many students recently who are going through some kind of suffering and hardship. The battle in their hearts is to believe that even though it hurts, that it is good. One huge encouragement from these verses: through our sufferings, God is actually rescuing us from ourselves. Without our sufferings, we would “go astray.” So if you are in the midst of some struggle or hardship right now, remember that God is loving you with tough love. Not a flimsy love that lets you coast through life and ends in little growth and lots of self-centeredness. Instead, His love for you is strong and tough and will make sure that you don’t miss all that He has for you. On top of that, there is a depth of understanding God, His ways, and even right theology (“that I might learn your statutes”) that can ONLY come through suffering. Intentionally focusing our hearts on these truths will persevere our faith in the midst of hardship. Are struggles hard and painful? Yes. But are they worth it in light of all we gain from them? Yes. God’s Word is a resounding YES.