Why does God send us through so many trials and tribulations? We've all heard the stories, the experiences of others, and we've been through a few 'weepy' nights ourselves.
And we all know that these experiences (theoretically at least) are supposed to make us stronger.
We are the head and not the tail, we remind ourselves in the midst of our pain.
He will never give us more than we can bear, our friends say to comfort us when we are down.
No weapon formed against us shall prosper, we whisper hopefully when our marriages, our jobs, or our families seem on the verge of falling apart.
And this is all supposed to make us stronger? I've wondered about this and I'm sure you have to.
Once, in my anger towards God (after a particularly lengthy 'trial'), I told God exactly why I was upset with Him: He could make this trial go away any time He chose.
So, I reasoned with Him, if I was suffering, I was suffering because of Him.
And what kind of God was that, I questioned Him? What kind of loving, kind, responsive God would watch me go through this pain and not lift a finger to help me? Yeah, I was the head and not the tail alright - the head of a big, fat mess! Not the right attitude, of course, but an honest response.
And, even if you have not felt this type of anger towards God, haven't you often wondered why He sends us through what He sends us through? Do you ever stop to think (as I have, many times), that there has to be an easier way to gain maturity, gain strength, learn patience and learn to be long-suffering? He is God, after all - can't He just magically give us those qualities instead of having us sweat it out for days, months, or in the most painful cases, years? So there has to be a reason.
Why do we go through all our trials and tribulations? For exactly the reasons that we have been led to believe - because God is trying to mature us (James 1: 2-4).
Because God wants to rid of us all those qualities that are not like Him (Psalm 66:10).
And because He uses our suffering to help us develop Godly characteristics (Romans 5:3-5).
The simple truth of the matter is that most of us would not be the loving, kind, patient people we are today had it not been for something we had gone through.
We would probably not appreciate God, our families, our friends or the simple joys of life had we not surmounted some obstacle, overcome some temptation or went through the horrors of our own personal trial by fire.
Admit it - you're a better person today because of a liberal helping of hurt, humiliation, difficult circumstances and stress.
And, if you're not, then consider yourself still in the training process.
There is, however, a benefit to journeying through the bad times.
Something that is only hinted at in the Bible when James exhorts us to rejoice in tribulation and Paul talks about the hope that is produced through suffering.
There is a sweet recompense for all that we have gone through, all the sleepless, lonely, weeping nights we've experienced and a joy that lessens the pain of lost loved ones, battered friendships or bruised egos.
I call it After the Pain After the Pain is what David talks about in Psalms 30.
He reminds us that we may weep for a night, but, hold on, because Joy comes in the morning! Does that mean we only have to endure for one night and then, when the morning comes, things will all be worked out? Only if you are very lucky.
That dark 'night' can last days, months or even years.
The woman who had the issue of blood experienced 11 lonely years of 'night'.
Blind Bartimeus had been blind since 'birth' - a entire lifetime of 'night'.
God promised Abraham a son at 86 years old and his night didn't end until 13 years later! How long will your 'night' last? As long as it takes.
But, hold on, because Joy comes in the morning! After the Pain is the sweet rejoicing, the sublime happiness, the wild anticipation you feel when (finally!) this trial has come to an end! You cry tears of joy.
You tell all your friends about your breakthrough.
You recount the goodness of God.
The pain is forgotten.
The bad memories are put away.
And a new season in your life begins.
Even more important than the outward rejoicing, however, is the inner peace that After the Pain brings.
Habits you thought would rule you for a lifetime are all of a sudden small cause for concern.
Worries that kept you up at night are just vague shadows in your mind.
Inner peace, and its companion - contentment - now rule your life.
This is your time.
This is your season.
Until the next trial begins.
That's why I believe the writers of the Bible always reminded us to rejoice, to think positively and to turn our cares over to God - in the midst of trials and tribulations.
Because they knew (and you are learning) that there is a sweet blessedness, peace and relief that will be yours once this pain has passed.
And you will be even better prepared - more patient, more loving, more patient - to face the next trial that will come you way.
So spend as little time as possible muddling in your pain.
Keep your thoughts as positive as you are able.
Rejoice now and, if you can't do that, at least say thank you to the One who will bring you through.
Weeping may endure for a night, but...
After the Pain Joy will come.