I was reading Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest" the other day and was greatly impacted by what he had to say. He was talking about our call to suffering for the Lord Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers was using the passage Colossians 1:24. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions."
Chambers said, "God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed."
Our response to trials and tribulations of life is to consider it all joy. The Lord is working to make us more into the image of God. The circumstances or people that the Lord uses is based on His good pleasure and according to his perfect will. I am called to trust my Lord as He does his work in my life. Why would I not respond in "joy" to any work that makes more like Jesus!
Tough times are a part of our spiritual growth. May we rejoice as Paul does because of the work that God is doing in his body, the church.