Adam lost two sons in one day.
Noah built an ark to save himself and his family from global deluge.
Abraham left familiar country for a foreign land.
Sarah had to wait until she was 90 to have her only child.
Moses fled hostile Egypt and had to return again to free his people.
David was hunted for years by King Saul.
And on and on it goes.
It seems as if most of the great men and women of faith in scripture were forced to walk through brambles at some point in their lives, and sometimes it never let up. Maybe it's precisely this walk that engages faith and causes it to flourish. Who needs God when life is nothing but smooth sailing? It's the trials and difficulties of life that we walk through that pose the opportunity before us: Will you lean on the Lord through this, or will you depend on yourself? Will you give glory to the One who walked you through it, or will you be embittered for having to endure it? Only one of those dichotomies landed these individuals in the hall of faith, and it wasn't self-reliance. Faith calls us to lean on the Lord when the situations of life are at their worst. Yes, we should lean on Him always, but faith is especially cultivated and germinated when the seed is buried deep in the soil of suffering. Without that soil what faith can develop? Faith in self? When life is easy, unfettered by pain, God seems unnecessary. Faith is pointless. It's turned weakly inward, centered on self.
But it is also groundless.
There is no foundation produced when that seed sits on the topsoil and is never forced to crack. No beautiful tree results from a seed that is never buried.
And what is a life without foundation? It is one tossed by the smallest tremor. It cannot withstand the winds of persecution. It is a life without the Comforter.
But in the soil of adversity, our endurance takes root, character sprouts, and hope blossoms.