In all of Scripture, if you notice where suffering takes place, it always causes good in the heart of the Christian towards God. You could call it sanctification. However, most people going through a season of suffering (I am guilty of this at times) do not want to hear, “Well the Lord must be sanctifying you for sure!” And maybe we need to say it differently, but it is the truth! The Lord sanctifies us often through suffering, and this is great news! We should long to be like Christ eagerly. Whatever it takes.
The apostle Paul paints the perfect example of hoping in God amidst suffering in Scripture:
Paul remains single (1 Cor. 9:5-6). Paul endures beatings and imprisonment (Acts 16:23). Paul deals with an ongoing illness (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Paul learns contentment in hunger and fullness—in need and in much (Phil. 4:11-13). Paul’s life abounded in suffering, yet his hope was in God as we see in the following:
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8
Undoubtedly, we can see through Paul’s suffering that God truly sanctified him in it.