James 1:2 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

Psalm 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

All of the above verses have to do with suffering or trials that we face in varying degrees as we travel this earthen sod. We have not been promised an easy road, each one of us has been given or will be given different types of suffering and trials as we await our meeting with the Lord, face to face. And, since it is God’s idea that we have these various times, He knows we need them to make us look and act like him, to conform us to his image, and have all the sharp edges of humanity rubbed away.

I make homemade sourdough bread, and every time I knead my bread I am excited thinking about how my bread will turn out, getting a hot fresh piece when it comes out of my Dutch Oven. The reason we need to knead bread is that it brings the dough together, develops the strands of gluten, and creates a stronger dough. And as we face trials, tribulations, failures, heartache, etc., it develops us. Somehow they change us and make us more like him. Some people seem to breeze through their trials, and their sufferings, and others seem to barely hang on. As Christians, we are not left to face these things alone. As the Lord is kneading us through these trials and sufferings, as we feel the pull and tug, the push and shove of life, we can lean into the Lord through the Holy Spirit and prayer. When we do somehow we receive what we need for that moment in time.

We rarely receive that added grace and mercy, that help beforehand, it comes as we pass through the waters, as we cry out to the Lord, as we move closer to hear his still small voice. He never said we would like it, or enjoy it, He just said He would not leave us to handle it all alone, He would be and is faithful to see us through.

There have been many times I have walked through deep hurt, disappointment, trials, and suffering. Times when I wanted to cry “enough!” and did, but God…

Did he get angry with me, was he disappointed in me, no. He tenderly called me closer, held me tighter, refilled my empty tank, and encouraged me to press on toward the mark. See, I want to look and act like my Lord and Savior, but I cannot unless he “kneads” the sinful, earthly things out of me. I am so thankful He has not left me as He found me, dying and on my way to hell. He has called me by name, He has promised I will see him one day, He has said he would take me through this dry and weary land, and bring me out on the other side, looking like him, victorious, and alive forevermore!

So, if you are suffering or going through a difficult time, remember it comes from the Sovereign hand of God. It will not last one moment longer than is needed. He will carry you and give you strength, help, and direction through the Holy Spirit, and He is faithful, never leaving you or forsaking you!

Maybe if dough could talk it would say: “Hey stop, I am not enjoying this part!” But just like us, bread needs kneading so that it can be the best bread ever!