We are always in the forge, or on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.
Paul and James both say that we should rejoice in our trials because of their beneficial results. It is not the adversity considered in itself that is to be the ground of our joy. Rather, it is the expectation of the results, the development of our character that should cause us to rejoice in adversity. God does not ask us to rejoice because we have lost our job, or a loved one has been stricken with cancer, or a child has been born with an incurable birth defect. But He does tell us to rejoice because we believe He is in control of those circumstances and is at work through them for our ultimate good.
In His infinite wisdom, God allows trials in order to develop perseverance in us and to cause us to fix our hopes on the glory that is yet to be revealed… Our faith and perseverance can grow only under the pain of trial.
In such trials God still truly blesses our faithfulness to Him, but these blessings can as well involve the mercy of removing us from the grasp of this world’s pleasures as rewarding us with worldly delights (Heb. 12:11; James 1:2-4). Whether God chooses the ordinary path of rewarding our goodness with observable blessing, or the extraordinary path of blessing our obedience with trials that will strengthen our character and stretch our faith, His love is never lacking (Heb. 12: 6-11).
It is natural…for us to trust in ourselves. It is so natural, and so confirmed by the habits of a lifetime, that no ordinary difficulties or perplexities avail to break us of it. It takes all God can do to root up our self-confidence. He must reduce us to despair; He must bring us to such an extremity that the one voice we have in our hearts, the one voice that cries to us wherever we look round for help, is death, death, death. It is out of this despair that the superhuman hope is born. It is out of this abject helplessness that the soul learns to look up with new trust to God… How do most of us attain to any faith in Providence? Is it not by proving, through numberless experiments, that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps? Is it not by coming, again and again, to the limit of our resources, and being compelled to feel that unless there is a wisdom and a love at work on our behalf, immeasurably wiser and more benign than our own, life is a moral chaos?… Only desperation opens our eyes to God’s love.
Trials expose what our hearts truly trust in, and what our hopes are. Time passing in a fallen world always brings trials. Trials are key times in discipling relationships, whether the trail is in the life of the one discipling or the one being disciple.
Losses and disappointments are the trials of our faith, our patience, and our obedience. When we are in the midst of prosperity, it is difficult to know whether we have a love for the Benefactor or only for His benefits. It is in the midst of adversity that our piety is put to the trial.
Do I learn through dark providences, or simply seem relieved when they are over?
Don’t bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens – justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism – take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into testimony. Don’t explain evil, exploit evil; make it serve you. Just as the Lotus flower reaches down and takes up the mud and mire into the purposes of its life and produces the lotus flower out of them, so you are to take whatever happens and make something out of it.
Trials have many purposes…many purposes. Trials test the strength of our faith. Trials wean us from earthly things. Trials call us to eternal hope. Trials reveal what and who we really love. Trials teach us to value God’s blessing. Trials enable us to help others who suffer. Trials produce endurance which equips us for greater usefulness, but mostly trials humble us.
Why does God allow bad things, devastating things to happen to His people?
1. Test the validity of their faith. Saving faith is indestructible. Saving faith endures to the end. Saving faith perseveres.
2. Wean them from the world. The Lord brings us to trials in order that we might be weaned away from confidence in worldly things.
3. Call them to heavenly hope. [Trials help] to fill our hearts with anticipation for the glories to come so that we will live in hope.
4. Show us what we really love. Trials will reveal what is most precious to [us]. If bearing the cross and the reproach of Christ is most precious, then [we’ll] suffer the loss of anything for that.
5. Teach us obedience. Trials also allow God to teach us obedience. Through those trials we learn that sin has painful consequences. Trials are God’s chastenings.
6. In order that He might reveal His compassion in our misery. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.
7. Develop [our]spiritual strength for greater usefulness. The more [we]are tested and refined by trials and trouble, the more useful [we] become.
8. Help others in their trials. God can come to [us] in [our] difficulty and strengthen [us] and then [we] can come to [others] with the strength He’s given to [us].
9. Display His astounding power.
Thankfully, joy is an all-season response to life. Even in the dark times, sorrow enlarges the capacity of the heart for joy. Like a diamond against black velvet, true spiritual joy shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedies and testing.
[Trials are] intended to produce, when believers respond with confidence in God and determination to endure, a wholeness of Christian character that lacks nothing in the panoply of virtues that define godly character [see James 1:2-4].
God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hands as a means. Trials, obstacles, difficulties and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.
In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.
Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes because we need them; and He proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires. Let us trust in His skill and thank Him for His prescription.
A measure of trials is necessary for the exercise and manifestation of your graces; to give you a more convincing proof of the truth and sweetness of the promises made to a time of affliction; to mortify the body of sin; and to wean you more effectually from the world.
No trials are wasted in God’s economy (Derek Prime and Alistair Begg).
God uses the troubles of our lives, culminating in the inevitability of our own deaths, to pry our grips off this world and refocus our hearts on what lies ahead with Him (Rick Holland).
Stop complaining about the stakes in your flesh and start turning them to your advantage by seeing them as conduits of God’s strength and sufficient grace.
Why should I tremble at the plow of my Lord that makes deep furrows on my soul? For He is no idle husbandman, He purposes a crop.
Let us mark this well. There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every trial is a message from God – and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing. But sickness is far better, if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy. But adversity is a greater one, if it brings us to Christ.
There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think – to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing; but sickness is far better, if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one, if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness, and dying in sin.
How would the great work of sanctification go on in a man if he had no trial? Trouble is often the only fire that will burn away the dross that clings to our hearts. Trouble is the pruning-knife which the great Husbandman employs in order to make us fruitful in good works. The harvest of the Lord’s field is seldom ripened by sunshine only. It must go through its days of wind, and rain, and storm.
Life on earth would not be worth much if every source of irritation were removed. Yet most of us rebel against the things that irritate us, and count as heavy loss what ought to be rich gain. We are told that the oyster is wiser; that when an irritating object, like a bit of sand, gets under the “mantle” of his shell, he simply covers it with the most precious part of his being and makes of it a pearl. The irritation that it was causing is stopped by encrusting it with the pearly formation. A true pearl is therefore simply a victory over irritation. Every irritation that gets into our lives today is an opportunity for pearl culture. The more irritations the devil flings at us, the more pearls we may have. We need only to welcome them and cover them completely with love, that most precious part of us, and the irritation will be smothered out as the pearl comes into being. What a store of pearls we may have, if we will!
You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience.
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is simply to try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of divine grace.
Just because you come to Christ does not mean you will not experience suffering. Christians and non-Christians suffer with similar trials. The difference is not in the nature of the trial, but rather the way in which we respond to the trials. You see, the world needs things in their life to go well to stay happy. Therefore they are continually up and down based upon their circumstances. Christians however know that God is sovereign over the trials they experience. They know the trials are specifically customized to their lives sent from the wise and loving hands of God. They are not sent to rob us of our joy. They are sent to refine us and make us more like Christ. Therefore it is our responsibility to by God’s grace remain under the trials until they perform in us the work designated by God. Knowing and believing this, we can have deep joy even in the worst of times because we know God’s refining process is the best thing we can ask for for spiritual transformation, Christlikeness.
His purpose for the lives of His children is Christlikeness. Though we often want comfort and pleasure and prosperity and healing, the Lord knows these are not always the means that will produce in us the holiness He desires. Sometimes God shows His love by removing the trial. Often He shows His love by permitting the trial to remain, knowing just the right pressure in our lives that will produce in us Christlikeness – both His greatest desire and our greatest good.
Therefore when the trial comes (and often remains), we understand that while in the trial we are being firmly held in His wise and loving arms. As the trial humbles us, it manifests a weakness in us that causes us to cast a greater dependence on Him. We are forever weaned of our self-sufficiency and our self-reliance and learn to trust in His resources and not our own. God provides perfectly measured, sufficient grace (His divine assistance through the Holy Spirit) enabling us to remain in the trial with our faith intact. We are enabled to depend more on His strength and not our own. And we are enabled to trust Him for the working of Christlikeness in our lives (Jas. 1:2-4).
When we respond rightly to trials, they actually have the capacity to increase our joy. Through them: God instructs us, we learn to depend on Him more, we experience a greater grace, we are being conformed to the image of Christ and we are learning the contrast with the glories to come.
When things are going well, often our prayers are no deeper than our lips. Yet when in a trial, they often come from the depths of our hearts.
Trials lead to weakness which leads to humility with leads to greater dependence on God which leads to strength (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
God sanctifies us though our trials. It’s been said, the same boiling water will soften a potato, but harden an egg. Trials don’t naturally shape our hearts, but our response to them will make us either bitter or better. What is the Gospel-centered response to trials? To live the crucified life with our Savior. Growing in humility. Becoming less and He becomes greater in us. It’s making a name for Jesus and not ourselves. It’s finding greater identity with Him. In Philippians 3:10 Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man’s mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteousness man’s crosses, losses and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.
There are some of your graces which would never be discovered if it were not for your trials.
Trials: 1. Trials drive us to God’s Word in new and desperate ways (Ps. 119:71). 2. Trials teach us deep, honest, real communion with God in prayer (Ps. 42:1). 3. Trials make us learn to walk in His power. (2 Cor. 12:8-9). 4. Trials make us turn more and more to the Lord (Ps. 4:8). 5. Trials remind us that we are small and God is big (Ps. 115:1). 6. Trials give us genuine emotion of anticipation of our heavenly hope (Rom. 8:18). 7. Trials teach us to value God’s blessings (Ps. 97:12). 8. Trials make us more useful for Him (Luke 22:31-32). 9. Trials put God’s mercy on display (Is. 30:18). 10. Trials shatter the idols of our own dreams and aspirations and make us live truly content with God’s will (Phil. 1:27).
Why name joy the gift in trials? Because trials keep us from becoming complacent about our loving God and Savior when we are forced to our knees and the tears won’t stop. It is only then that our communion with our God is the purest. Trials drive us to run boldly to the throne of grace, to the safety of being on our faces in the presence of God, and to spend time in deep communion with God. When we are hurting, we don’t suffer as much from weak, shallow, and meaningless minutes with the Lord, We learn to relish and anticipate hours with God! The experience of communion and intimate fellowship with God is the very depiction of joy!
All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power and love.
Trials are the crucible in which perseverance is forged.