Are their important lessons to be learned in trials? When circumstances in your life happen that are beyond your control, what does God expect you to learn from them?
Sometimes you know right away when you’re in a trial and other times you realize it after months…years even. These trials may occur in health issues, job loss, relationships, etc. Maybe you or your spouse gets laid off from a position. A job may not appear until next month, 6 months, a year, two years — now you’re in an extended trial.
Some questions that can run through your mind during a trial: Why isn’t God answering my prayers? What’s God doing? Doesn’t He know how long we’ve been in this trial? What’s He doing up there? How much longer do we have to wait?
I do not know about you, but these trials are hard. The waiting during the unknown can be frightening and paralyzing. I know that job loss for my husband impacted him as a man and secondary infertility/pregnancy loss impacted me as a woman. In both instances, you question your usefulness.
And then you can start to believe that there is no purpose and there is no point. But God is always at work even in the midst of trials and testings. For me, there were some things I needed to learn as well as to grow up in the Lord more. These trials and testings were meant to grow me into Christ’s likeness — to purify and refine me. When these trials come, you ultimately won’t come through these trials unchanged. With God, He sees the overall picture and He is doing something in the process.
God in the Process
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet. 4:12-13).
Do not be surprised? Rejoice in the sufferings? You’re suppose to not be surprised and rejoice when trials coming? In this context, Peter was talking about persecution, but you are also to count it all joy when meeting trials of various kinds,“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). These passages are difficult to understand at first because it’s normal for your first reaction to be surprise and anything but rejoicing and joy. Hardships are hardships, because they’re hard.
However, because you are in Christ, you can have joy in Him even when you meet trials of various kinds because there is a purpose behind them. Paul said of himself that he was sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:8-10). So too, will you have the tension of sorrow and joy as you wait for your Savior in this world. And apart from the empowering work of the Spirit testifying to this truth, there would be nothing to rejoice in. But knowing your eternal hope as you wait for your Savior to return is worth any trials you endure in this lifetime. So for the Christian, there is always hope in the midst of sorrow.
Some Lessons Learned
(1) Although it can be tempting to want to get through a trial, it’s important to not hurry up the process in order to get through them. You can be eager to try and find a way out without depending on God, but God wants you to turn to Him and seek His wisdom and help during these periods. There is always something to be learned in these times.
God is working to grow your faith, to use you for His purposes He has for you, and to ultimately use these trials for His glory. I know my faith would not have grown and my dependence on God would not have increased if I had not gone through the trials that I had. I would not see God the way I am see Him now without them. I don’t long for trials by any means, but I know that they have not been wasted by a loving Father.
(2) If you have children, they see your reaction to trials. You become more aware of how important it is to train up your child(ren) in the Lord. Their faith will one day need to be tested as well. This is a good way to prepare them for that. They will need to have their own walk with the Lord, separate from their parents. They then get to see how the Lord works through those difficult times when their parents go through them and how you as parents handle them.
(3) Trials lessen your grip on this world. Everything in this world will pass away. All things are to be held with open hands. Everything you have is ultimately God’s and you are stewards of what God has given you. God teaches His children that you are not to hold on too tightly to the things He has given you because anything can become an idol that can be held above God and replace Him with it.
(4) You become more closer to Christ as you cling to Him. When you come to the end of yourself and surrender to God’s plans, life with Christ becomes more passionate and exciting. You don’t have to hold onto something that God says to release to Him. It’s giving your burdens to Him. And instead of fighting against what God is doing, you’re partnering with Him. If God needs to work on your character, your faith, your heart, etc., He can use trials to do that. Again, in order to use you to be able to fulfill the assignments God will or already has given you, He wants to grow you in the areas that may be lacking. If you can’t be faithful in the little God has given you, how can God give you more?
Although trials are not easy, the lessons learned are invaluable, and the genuineness of your faith is more precious than gold.
“[S]o that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7).
How has God used trials in your life in unexpected ways to the praise and glory of God?