We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4
Have you ever sown seeds in the spring and placed them, sceptically, on a sunny windowsill? You can hardly believe that anything will come from these dry, uninteresting specks. Having planted them in special containers you keep them warm and protected, giving them perfect conditions to germinate. The miracle when tiny leaves appear! After they have grown a few centimetres you tenderly, lovingly and tediously separate each little seedling into an individual container. You have invested a lot of time, effort and care in them.
By May or June the young plants have grown and they need to be hardened off. They have been cosseted and now they have to be toughened up for the rigours of outdoor life. To do this, each morning you have to take them outside and in the evening bring them back in under cover. This way they gradually become used to colder, unprotected conditions. Eventually the plants are ready for being planted out permanently in the garden, able to withstand anything that a Scottish summer can throw at them.
There are times in our lives when we feel cosy and comfortable. It might be everything is going well for us at a natural level or perhaps God is blessing us spiritually and we feel the warmth of His love upon us. At other times we're taken out of our comfort zone and exposed to the cold harshness of this world; difficulties, hardships and temptations come our way. It is in these times we learn courage and endurance. God is developing strength of character within us and increasing our faith. We are learning to withstand all that this world can throw at us. God is preparing us for greater exploits in the spiritual realm.
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand––out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. Romans 5:2 (The Message)