When Trials Come
There are a lot of people in my life, family and friends, who are currently experiencing challenging circumstances, situations, and trails in life. For some it is health issues, for others it’s work load, and still other’s it may be financial burden. I’m sure many of us can identify something that we are currently struggling with or have in the past.
I have been burdened to pray for these people and have also been reflecting on what God says in His Word about the struggles, hardships, and trials that all believers will ultimately face – we are not immune.
“We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.” – Elisabeth Elliot
I have had a few very pivotal trials in my life. Pivotal in the sense that I had the choice as to what my attitude was going to be through all of it. I could have become a very bitter person who decided that God was ‘making’ me suffer, or I could have sought to learn and grow from the experience. Thankfully for many of them, I decided to learn and grow and anchor myself on the truths of God, found in His Word.
“We all know people who have been made much meaner and more irritable and more intolerable to live with by suffering: it is not right to say that all suffering perfects. It only perfects one type of person – the one who accepts the call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Oswald Chambers
The one that stands out most clearly to me was during my year at Bible School in 2003 in B.C. My first few months there were very challenging for various reasons. I didn’t connect well with anyone at the school and groups of friends that I thought I had, didn’t really pan out in the end. Also for a few years previous, my mom was dealing with health issues that had her in and out of the hospital. So, I thought a lot about how things were going back at home.
I will always remember the few days around Thanksgiving. The students were given the holiday off, some were going to visit with friends and family and some were going to stay at the school. It was during this time that I found out that my mom was yet again in the hospital and was not doing well, almost to the point that they weren’t sure she was going to make it.
Now, up until this point, God had been doing a great deal of work on my heart. It was as if He was slowly stripping away everything until all that was left was Him. I didn’t have any friends that I could confide in, and the one person I did talk to a lot, my mom, was potentially going to be taken as well. It was if He was showing me that He was the first one I should go to, the only one steadfast and consistent in life.
“Where do you run for help? When you are in trouble, what is your first instinct? Do you run to others or to God? Is it usually the counsel of another rather than the counsel found in waiting upon God in prayer? Why is this the way it is? Why do we run to man before we run to God?” – Kay Arthur
It was a hard few days as I chose to stay at the school, and an even harder year, but it was also so foundational for my faith. Thankfully my mom is still with us! I believe the foundation that God laid with me that year has been the thing that has kept me grounded in all the various struggles and trials I have had since that point. Yes, it was hard, but it was also so good and I am so thankful for what He taught me and how I grew through the process.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation…therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:12-13,19
I find these verses above provide a bit of a check for my attitude when I’m feeling burdened by something. Peter says it plainly that we shouldn’t be surprised, following Christ is not without suffering. So now often when I find myself saying, “Why does it have to be so hard”, it quickly turns to “Why not, I have not been promised an easy life.”
I especially love verse 4:19 and the reminder to entrust my soul to a faithful Creator! That’s just it, isn’t it, He’s the Creator, the Author, He knows the future and ultimate end and is ever so faithful to His children!
My friend, don’t lose heart! Anchor yourself within the Word and entrust all to Him!
For those of us who are seeing friends and family go through various trials, you also need to entrust them to a Faithful Creator through prayer!
Trials happen, for better or worse, that is the state of our world because of sin. Christ told us to expect them and to rejoice despite them. So, instead of trying to fix the problem or be ‘helpful’ to each other in ways that are not, may we strive to encourage and build up each other, to walk alongside each other and pray for one another.
“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” – Elisabeth Elliot
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:2-4, 12
*Originally posted on The Eddy blog in 2016