The idea of work ethic appears to have gone out of style. Instead of admiring “blood, sweat, and tears” as a means of personal achievement, the phrase “work smarter, not harder” seems to encapsulate the attitude of our working society. Along with hard work falling out of favor, any type of pain, suffering, endurance, or hardship is often looked upon as something to be avoided at all cost.
In her devotional book Jesus Lives, Sarah Young says: “Affliction is a largely unappreciated gift among My children. Decades of ‘health and wealth’ teaching have obscured the benefits of suffering.”
Consider that even Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:9 NASB)
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 KJV)
Oftentimes, labor, diligence, perseverance, discipline, and even pain and suffering are tools God uses to teach us obedience and to perfect us as children of the kingdom. Thus, we are to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-8)
A Ligonier Ministries devotional puts it this way: “We are to consider what we are going through as a matter of joy, not because the thing itself is something that is pleasurable, but because tribulation works patience within us. There is at least one good thing happening to us in the midst of pain and suffering. We are therefore called to think about our circumstances in that light. Our suffering is not an exercise in futility. God has a purpose, and that purpose is always good. We can count all things joy because God is working in all situations, even the most painful, for our sanctification and ultimate glorification.”
Discipline, perseverance, and labor are not pleasant, and may often be painful, but they can be a tutor who teaches our children obedience for their ultimate good. Let’s keep in mind “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” and that hard work is a gift from God. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)