What is a person to do when faced with tests and trials or difficulties in life (disappointment, disaster, and despair)? Scripture teaches us that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Yet when we encounter difficulties, we often wonder, Why? Most of us would question God on why would He allow these trials and difficulties to come to our lives.
According to John MacArthur, the Greek word of trial connotes trouble or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. So a trial can be in a form of an infirmity (physical limitations or illness), persecutions (ridicule or oppression on account of faith or religious convictions), distresses (disappointments and deep hurts), unusual challenges and pressures, and/or temptations where one can yield to his/her sinful nature once an opportunity arise.
Everyone underwent (or might still currently be undergoing) trials in their lives. No one is exempted. So, what can a trial do unto us? What can it make us?
The Bible tells us something about having trials in our lives. We find it in the book of James: “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, NIV).
Most of us want to avoid trials or try to squirm out from the experience of it because of the pain that lies at the center of these trials.
The book of James challenges the standards of the world. Worldly wisdom can see no value in suffering. It says pain is to be avoided at all costs, and only pleasure brings happiness. By contrast, to Christians even trials are a joy because they lead us to maturity in Christ. Christians judge value quite differently than the world does. To us the highest value is not freedom from pain but a faith that perseveres. The suffering that life brings, although bad in itself, can be turned by God into pure joy. (College Press NIV Commentary)
Getting the meat out from the passage in the book of James, God’s goal through our trials is to strengthen our dependence on Him and to strengthen our character as well…for our own maturity. He is the potter and we are the clay. He’s going to mold us to a better shape as we allow Him.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A Personal Project:
Your response makes the difference. Accept God’s grace in your trials. Unless you accept God’s grace to deal with suffering, certainly you will become bitter. However, if you choose to trust God to bring about His purposes through the suffering, you can avoid the trap of bitterness and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. You can be confident that God is sovereign and will not allow anything to happen to you without His permission, and He will not let any “bad thing” happen that will not eventually bring you more good than destruction.