Suffering, or pain is an experience of unpleasantness associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm to an individual. Suffering may be physical or mental. Suffering may come in all degrees of intensity ranging from mild to intolerable. Suffering may last a short period of time, or it could go on indefinitely. Suffering may occur often, or it may occur once in a while. How you handle your suffering depends on your attitude. Some sufferers see suffering as an opportunity to grow. Some sufferers prolong their suffering by having a bad attitude about it and failing to learn lessons from it. Suffering in religion is referred to as trials, tribulations, or hardships.
Warren says, "Suffering produces perseverance." Then he goes on to say, "You can either panic or persevere when you are under pressure." He uses Paul as an example of one who learned in his own ability he could not handle the stress of life that he also learned that in God's power he could handle anything. Paul learned that lesson through the things he suffered. That's why he said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me." Those words can be our words when we embrace our suffering as a way to persevere.
Since suffering produce perseverance, perseverance produces character. James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it all joy whenever we face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Character produces hope. Warren says when you go through suffering, you can face it with resentment or gratitude, with complaining or rejoicing, with worry or worship, with fear or faith, with self-dependence or self-surrender. The choice is up to you. However, if you want to grow spiritually through your suffering, you should not say, "Woe is me!" You should say, "Why not me!"
Rick Warren, 60, is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, He and his wife started the church in their home in 1980, with just one other family. Today Saddleback is one of the most prominent churches in America with more than 20,000 members attending four campuses each week, reaching out through some 200 ministries. Warren rose to worldwide fame after publishing his wildly popular book, "The Purpose Driven Life," in 2002. To date, the book has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the top selling hardcover book of all time.