[T]here is indeed no radical deliverance for humanity which is not the fruit of an interior struggle, in which suffering, distress accepted in faith, is the condition of a truly new life. (Louis Bouyer, Introduction to the Spiritual Life)
Suffering, which is what Bouyer calls distress accepted in faith, is the condition of a truly new life — which is to say, the Christian life. This sounds like crazy talk, maybe, to us Western Christians. I sit here in my warm home with my feet up, typing something that a modest number of people will ever read, and Bouyer says that suffering is the condition of the Christian life?? Ouch.
But it is not as though he made this up. On the contrary, it is very scriptural.
In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world. (John 16:33, JB; emphasis added)
I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land — not without persecutions — now in this present time and in the world to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29, JB; emphasis added)
[W]hen we were with you, we warned you that we must expect to have persecutions to bear, and that is what has happened now, as you have found out. (1 Thessalonians 3:4-5, JB; emphasis added)
We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22, JB; emphasis added)
In short: the Christian life comes with suffering. Period. We can’t escape it, and given the necessity of it (as these passages and others amply testify) I can’t exactly say how sure I am that we should try and avoid it at all costs. Because if I do not suffer hardships, as the Bible says is necessary, then how can I hope to enter God’s kingdom? I suppose the answer is that we must not be gluttons for punishment, but neither should we cowardly flee from troubles when God says in His Word that we will have them in this life. The sooner I accept this in faith, as Bouyer says, the sooner I will be suffering in the way that God wants me to do: in faith. Lord, help me to suffer in faith, because You discipline every son that You receive (Hebrews 12:6).