Why some people can endure intense distress

Tom Long says that “People can endure intense distress and pain if they know it is not meaningless.”*

Very true. Consider this illustration from William Gurnall: “If you should get up in the morning and hear men on your house tearing off the tiles and taking down the roof with hammers and axes, you might think a gang of vicious enemies had come to destroy your home. But as soon as you understand that these workmen have been sent by your father to mend your house, you gladly endure the noise and trouble.”**

How many of us can look back on a difficult experience and see how it made us stronger, or more humble, or wiser, or more loving? I’m not saying it was a good or pleasurable experience. What I am saying is that when we see God working through past difficulties, we are more likely to see him working through current difficulties. 

Church father John Chrysostom put it like this: “They who drink bitter medicines first submit to some unpleasantness and afterwards feel the benefit.”***

What if God is refining you? What if he is growing you so that you can handle a future scenario which you would otherwise not be equipped to face? What if he was giving you a certain experience so that you can one day help someone else who is going to need to talk to someone who ‘has been there,’ someone like you? What if he is making your roots grow deep so that you can withstand a future storm?

“People can endure intense distress and pain if they know it is not meaningless.” 


–“What did Jesus mean when he said to store up treasures in heaven?” I respond to this question by looking at Jesus’ words in the much-beloved Sermon on the Mount. Click here to read in this piece published by The Gospel Coalition Canada.

–*Thomas G. Long, Hebrews – Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 132.

–**William Gurnall, ed. James S. Bell Jr., The Christian in Complete Armour (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), entry for Nov. 18.

–***Epistle to the Hebrews 30.1.

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