And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:4 ESV)
Relief from pain and hardship is not a bad thing. In fact, this universal desire to exist in a world absent of pain and sorrow serves as evidence that we were made for something more than this current creation can offer. We long for a home that feels more fitting than what we presently experience—and the good news is Jesus, our loving Savior, is preparing that place for us.
But until that time comes, when endurance and perseverance cease, we are called to remain steadfast. And, not only steadfast in a moment, but steadfast to the extent that our endurance has its proper formative effect on us. There is something that happens in the crucible of ongoing steadfastness that is necessary for us to navigate this life in a Christlike way. This truth is difficult enough for us to receive, yet how much more difficult for us to convince our clients that ongoing steadfastness is better than immediate relief from what ails them?
In the midst of suffering, God’s children grow. However, that growth is rarely perceptible to the sufferer. It is only after the suffering has subsided that they are able to look back and see how much their time in the valley of the shadow of death has changed them and made them more like Christ. This gives us a unique role, for while we walk in the valley with our clients, we will often see what they cannot. It is in these moments that we can speak life and endurance into our client’s darkness. It is also the means by which we can help them remain steadfast. Though they feel like nothing is changing and perhaps everything is falling apart, we can gently remind them that God is with them, He is changing them in beautiful ways, and His timing—though mysterious and confusing—is perfect and set in love.
We must be wary of accidentally rescuing our clients from steadfastness. It is good and right for our hearts to long for those in our care to not have to experience pain and difficulty. However, we know that steadfastness is required for growth, and relief brought prematurely hinders that growth. So, let us always express compassion for the pain in peoples’ lives while also helping them patiently endure, knowing this pain has a loving purpose that God is bringing to fruition.