December 05, 2012 - God's ultimate goal for your life on Earth is not comfort but character.
He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ.
Think about the Christmas Story. Jesus was born when Rome ruled the world.
It is estimated that over half the population of the Roman Empire were slaves.
The Jewish people were oppressed by the Romans.
There "was no room in the Inn" for Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus, so he was born (most likely) in a cave used to keep animals. When he grew up, Jesus was criticized and eventually crucified!
We tend to idealize the Christmas story as if it was sweet, nice, and cute. The fact is, life was hard then and life is hard now.
Oftentimes people ask me, "Greg, if there is a God, and God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?"
That's a huge question with lots of angles. But one answer is this: God's ultimate goal for your life is character, not comfort.
God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the Beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul's great chapter on love, and Peter's list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (Matthew 5:1-12; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Peter 1:5-8).
Every time you forget that character is one of God's purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances.
You'll wonder, "Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?"
One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It's what enables us to grow.
Remember: Earth is not Heaven!
You will have all of eternity with no hardship. So don't waste your hardship. Grow from it.
The Rev. Greg Henneman is pastor of Clarkston Community Church