“The spiritual life is not lived upon the heavenly hearth-rug, within safe distance from the fire of love. … It means a complete conquest of life’s perennial tendency to lag behind the best possible; willing acceptance of hardship and pain. And if we ask how this can be, what is it that makes possible such enhancement of human will and of human courage, the only answer seems to be that of the Johannine Christ: that it does consist in a more abundant life.
“… we found its general line of development to lead through disillusion with the merely physical to conversion to the spiritual, and thence by way of hard moral conflicts and their resolution to a unification of character, a full integration of the active and contemplative sides of life.” ~Evelyn Underhill
Some people think that being spiritual should be a constantly pleasant and joyful experience. It would be if we lived in a spiritual world, but we don’t. In a material world, being spiritual is difficult and sometimes those difficulties almost seem deliberate, as if God wants you to face some hardships. Why should that be?
One reason why we have to face hardships such as illness, money problems, lose of family members, etc. is so that we can understand what everyone else feels and goes through when those things happen to them. We can sympathize and empathize with others much more easily when we feel something similar to what they feel.
Another reason is that hardships remind us that the material world is not a very pleasant place. It can seem pleasant and beautiful if, as some people encourage us to do, you look only at the pleasant and ignore the rest. But it is hard to ignore the bad things in the material world when they pounce on you and sit on your chest. You can look at healthy, happy children playing in a schoolyard and pretend that the world is a happy place, but it isn’t so easy to ignore the fact that many other children are home in bed with illnesses when you get some illness yourself. It is easy to pretend that all people are well clothed like they are in your neighborhood, until your plane crashes in a poor country where most people don’t even own a single pair of shoes.
Another reason is that we grow stronger by overcoming difficulties. Just as the bodybuilder gets bigger muscles by pushing himself to lift more, when we overcome difficulties, it tends to make us stronger. The old saying, “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger,” is indeed true most of the time. And it is important for spiritual people to be strong when you face demonic opponents to your continues spiritual growth.
And, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, we sometimes suffer hardships because dark being, demons, send them our way to try to pull us away from the Path of Light. So we need to develop strength to resist them.