Disciples of Jesus have trials and difficulties... but so does the world. The big difference is the nature of the trials (sometimes) and the final outcome (always).
Some trials and difficulties are common to everyone - they're just a part of life, so we shouldn't be surprised when they occur. Others are caused by sinful lifestyles and conduct - and a person who is constantly following Jesus will tend to not experience such problems. (Even non-Christians will have fewer trials, if they pay attention to the Bible's advice for daily living - such as found in the book of Proverbs!) Yet there will be times when a follower of Jesus will experience more trials and difficulties than the people around him, simply because he is now a follower of Jesus. Why? Because people who are opposed to Jesus will oppose his followers, too (John 15:18-19).
The biggest difference between the disciple's trials and the world's trials is the outcome. We, the disciples, have a guarantee that God will use them to accomplish good (whether now or in eternity) - Romans 8:28. The world has no such guarantee, for unless they turn to Jesus, no good thing awaits them at the Day of Justice.
Admit it... trials happen! But God shows us how to respond, and he gives us plenty of good reasons for enduring them.
This is how I view this issue, based on my own experiences. The article is based on a letter I once wrote to someone else who was experiencing trials.
It's not that we enjoy pain and suffering! Instead, it is because we know God's promises about how he will use those trials to accomplish good in our lives. We rejoice in what God is doing - and that gives us the hope and joy we have.
Job, in the midst of his trials, made this claim. Though evil and injustice surround us, God's people will remain steadfast in God, because he gives them the strength to do so. [Note: Psalm 73 shows us that we may have genuine struggles with these issues. But we will not be totally overcome by them.] This study is primarily a large list of questions for self-evaluation.
When trials occur, what is your goal? To get God to change your circumstances... or to get him to change you?
Sometimes, it seems that good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. How do we explain this? How should we respond to this issue?
What value is there in learning about the persecution and deaths of Christians of the past? It's somewhat like reading about the people of faith in Hebrews 11: It's a matter of encouragement. God gave them the strength to remain faithful, all the way to the "finish line." He can also give us the strength we need. [There are many accounts of modern-day Christian martyrs. I recommend that people read about their lives. But since those books/publications are not in the public domain, I can't copy them to My Journal.]
This article focuses on peer pressure and the fake "super people" that are often promoted by the media. The world (which may include family, neighbors and even those we would call "friends") often tries to get us to be something we aren't - and can never be. As followers of Jesus, we do not have to live such a life of pretension!
When God begins to work in someone's life, the good that he accomplishes can affect future generations. This story describes events in Grandma's life before God began accomplishing good in her family. A few comments about what happened after this are added at the end.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b)