Hardship tempts us to think that God is unmoved by our plight or is against us, and so we despair. When we experience difficult times, we need the strength of God to show us by the riches of the cross of Christ that he is for us, and not against us. When we experience difficult times, we can be strengthened by the knowledge that God was so filled with love and concern for us, that he came in his Son to suffer hardship and to die on our behalf, to transform our suffering into something worthwhile. If this powerful truth dominates our lives, then we can face the worst human hardship with a strong faith, and we can rest assured that God is working out our salvation, even in the midst of hardship.
We need this strength as much when we experience affluence as when we experience poverty. When life is comfortable, we are tempted to forget the grace of God and rely on ourselves. We forget easily that many have worked as hard as us but have not had our success. God has given success to us, not because we deserve it, but as a concrete reminder that he is a gracious God. In the midst of affluence as much as in the times of deprivation, we need God’s help to survive spiritually.