Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ---James 1:2-4
Why do the children of God suffer the same indignities and trials as those who don't claim Christ as Savior?
We suffer the same trials and indignities as those who aren't Christians because we are no better or worse than those who don't yet know Him. To spare us merely because we're saved is to tell the rest of the world God loves them less than us; that we're better or more valuable than others who have not yet met Christ.
We're saved by grace, not by our acts, and our salvation is the beginning of an eternal story that one day will end our suffering and trials, but it is certainly not a get-out-of-jail free card from the storms on this side of life. Storms---or the absence of storms---is not a measure of a person's holy acceptance to God; nor are they a measure of whom He loves or doesn't love.
God is not silent and He is not absent. He agonizes over our trials. It must surely take all the strength of His all-powerful nature not to sweep in and balance the scales of eternity right this minute. And while He certainly could do so, it would mean erasing from His presence forever every person you and I know who has not yet accepted Christ as Savior.
Our suffering ends, forever, the moment we die, or the moment God stands up to end history as we know it. So while it is natural for us to long for an end to our trials, we're torn because we know when God stands up as judge, every son or daughter, every mother or father, every friend or coworker; every person who matters to us but isn't a follower of Jesus Christ will suffer eternal separation from God.
Do not ever doubt that God can act. He can---and sometimes does---act in miraculous and supernatural ways to alter the current course of trials in our lives. It is that hope we cling to as we plead with Him in prayer for others and for ourselves.
But like parents who sometimes say no to their children's earnest pleas for reasons the children cannot comprehend, there are times when our Heavenly Father will also say no to us. We're forced, then, to trust His wisdom or not to; to trust His eternal perspective, or not.
How then do we live under times of distress or seemingly unbearable struggles? How do we relate to God when we don't understand what He's doing?
The answer is harder to take than the trial sometimes, but here it is: We who choose to trust God's wisdom and compassion and eternal perspective must stop asking Him to calm the storms in our lives, and instead ask Him to calm us in the storms. For even when God does intervene to end one storm, another inevitably arises.
In trial and triumph, we must be asking God to change our hearts, not merely the circumstances we find ourselves in. Only then can perseverance produce the kind of fruit worthy of the suffering we're enduring.