One day Dan McConchie was riding his motorcycle when a car unexpectedly came into his lane and forced him into oncoming traffic. When he woke up two weeks later in the trauma center, he was a mess. Along with a deflated lung and broken bones, he’d suffered a spinal-cord injury that left him a paraplegic. Dan prayed for healing, but it never came. Yet in the midst of this tragedy he experienced peace and learned a profound lesson: “Life isn’t for our comfort. Instead, the purpose of this life is that we become conformed to the image of Christ. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen when everything is unicorns and rainbows. It instead happens when life is tough.”

This sounds similar to the poignant message Paul penned to the Christians in the church at Rome. He explained that one of the results of a right standing with God is the ability to rejoice even in suffering (Romans 5:3). This wasn’t a call to endure suffering with stoic fortitude or to find pleasure in pain. It was instead an invitation to experience God’s power to bring beauty even out of pain in a beautiful chain reaction (Romans 5:3-5). And through the Spirit’s comforting presence, believers could experience “how dearly” God loved them (Romans 5:5).

Suffering plus Jesus cultivates endurance; endurance plus Jesus cultivates proven character; and proven character plus Jesus cultivates hope—faith that the Father will not abandon us but will walk with us through the fire and into the future (Romans 5:2-5).

Suffering can be devastating, but it can also lead to growth if we respond by relying on God’s power. Rather than viewing afflictions as God’s disfavor, may we draw near to Him and the hope that endures forever (Romans 5:4).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 2 Samuel 5:1-12