There is that of God to be seen in such a day as cannot be seen in another. His power in holding up some, his wrath in leaving of others; his making of shrubs to stand, and his suffering of cedars to fall; his infatuating of the counsels of men, and his making of the devil to outwit himself; his giving of his presence to his people, and his leaving of his foes in the dark; his discovering [disclosing] the uprightness of the hearts of his sanctified ones, and laying open the hypocrisy of others, is a working of spiritual wonders in the day of his wrath, and of the whirlwind and storm.
We are apt to overshoot, in the days that are calm, and to think ourselves far higher, and more strong than we find we be, when the trying day is upon us. . . . We could not live without such turnings of the hand of God upon us. We should be overgrown with flesh, if we had not our seasonable winters. It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit, because there is no winter there.
~ John Bunyan: Seasonable Counsel; or Advice To Sufferers
We must understand that there is more to learn and more of God to be gained our times of suffering. John Bunyan understood this. A person needs only read his biography. Believe it or not, God is usually closest to us in these times but because of our pain...we don't or can't see Him there. We must try to see Him during these times and what He has to teach us. It builds a faith that is capable of enduring death and will not fold up under the first sign of pressure and misery. We sorely lack this in feel-good preaching and applications sermons that are more interested or content with preaching to where people are at rather than where they need to be.
What's more is if the faith is way it should be it will be able to endure hardship and struggling with a wry sense of grace that can only come from God. It is in these struggles...when we are walking through the valley of death struggling to keep not only our lives but our faith also...that we pick up the supplies and resources we need to scale the mountains of faith and reach their pinnacle in Jesus.
If they forced our Master to struggle...how much more will we struggle and suffer if we willingly choose to follow in His footsteps. He was tempted, we will be tempted. He suffered, we will suffer. He died, we will die. Christians that do not suffer are not Christian. Christians that do not die to self will not rise again as a new creation. The two principles are inseparably linked. To live is to die and to die is to live. The Christian must be consoled with the fact that there is always the glorious culmination of the suffering in the eternal reward. One must never lose sight of this fact. That is why we are repeatedly called to persevere in the faith until the bitter end. It is in the suffering and pressure that the diamond of faith is born. It is in the unremitting pressure of suffering and struggle that the ugly coal and carbon of sin is best squeezed until there is no more darkness in it. What emerges is beauty personified in the glorified believer who is the image or impression of the glorified Christ. This is why Jesus prayed the prayer for all believers in John 17...
John 17:20-24 “My prayer [disciples] is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.