I don't watch much television these days, but the television happened to be switched on and it happened to be tuned to a Christian television station. It was broadcasting an hour-long interview with a well known Christian, whose name I won't mention in case my recollection of what he said is less than perfect.
He was talking about God, about worship, and about the lessons God had taught him. He recalled that the Bible verse that speaks of knowing the power of Christ's resurrection also speaks of knowing the fellowship of His sufferings.
He had five children, highly intelligent youngsters - apart from one, who was born with a disability. He remembered the lessons that God had taught him through that disabled daughter. Sometimes, he said, as Christians we look for perfection; and sometimes God allows imperfection, not only to teach us, but to demonstrate His perfection.
I have to confess that that spoke to my heart.
Life is not all jam butties, and Christians are not exempt from the trials and difficulties that come along in life. But Christians do have two tremendous advantages.
First, God is a master at bringing good out of bad situations. As the Bible puts it, all things work together for good to those who love God. In fact, God will not allow anything to happen to a Christian unless He can bring good out of it. He is working in Christians' lives. He can use what is after all a short time of suffering to work something good in us that will last for all eternity.
Second, God is with us in it. There is nothing you can suffer that He hasn't suffered already. Selwyn Hughes tells of a Christian woman whose husband was killed in the Twin Towers tragedy in New York. "When the news broke that my husband had been killed," she said, "a terrible darkness descended on me. But a hand reached out to me in the darkness. It was rough with work at a carpenter's bench, and pierced with an ancient wound."
When tragedy strikes and suffering comes, you may be tempted to wonder if God cares. If you are, look at the cross of Christ. He had no need of Himself to suffer all of that. He did it willingly for you and for me, out of the greatest love that this world has ever known. Keep the cross in view, and you won't need to doubt God's love.