Transformed Through Sufferings
When we choose to follow Jesus, we make a decision to be transformed. In baptism, we identify with Jesus, who separates us from the power of sin and death and gives us new life. It is not the ceremony itself that saves us, but faith in Jesus' death and resurrection. Baptism is the symbol of the transformation that happens in the hearts of those who believe. (Romans 6:3-5, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:12)
The real transformation is a process. Close your eyes for a moment and picture the process of winter turning to spring. Can you see it? The slow beginning of new life, the days progressively warming, the sun's refreshing touch, all of creation coming alive with flowers of all colors, The Beatles song playing in your head as you walk outside, "Here comes the sun, do do do do, here comes the sun and I say, it's alright."
It doesn't happen overnight. In the same way, the transformation that happens in a person who follows Jesus is a process that continues to progress over time.
The fuel to this transformation is sufferings. (Not very inspiring, I know, but hear me out.)
Some people will do anything to avoid pain. They deliberately choose the path that seems to be the easiest and least painful.
Brothers and sisters, we must not seek out what we believe to be easiest. Let's look again at the words in 1 Peter 4:1-2 (The Living Bible)
Since Christ suffered and underwent pain, you must have the same attitude he did; you must be ready to suffer, too. For remember, when your body suffers, sin loses its power, and you won't be spending the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but will be anxious to do the will of God.
As followers of Jesus, we are willing and prepared to do God's will and suffer for it if necessary. It's in our times of sufferings that our real values show up clearly.
We are grown through pain and we are transformed under pressure.
This is not to say that a follower of Jesus undergoes suffering every day. So many days are full of peace, joy, abundance, and His overwhelming presence and love.
But when we do suffer, we are undergoing a holy transformation. When I think about it, some of the days I've felt closest to Jesus and furthest from sin is when I'm in the middle of suffering of some kind. It's absolutely beautiful.
Not if, but when you find yourself amidst suffering of any kind, be encouraged that you are following in your father's footsteps and following in Jesus' footsteps is the best place you can be.
Like winter turning to spring, you are in the process of transforming into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
Take heart, root yourself in Jesus, and say "bring it on!"
P.S. Need to pause and soak in some encouragement? Check out this song called "Springtime" by Chris Renzema