I hesitate to write about the topic of trials, because so there are so many books and videos and blog posts available from much smarter people than me, but as I sit here in my office, this is where I am in life. It’s my turn to deal with something that feels big, overwhelming, and unsolvable.
I’m certain I don’t have anything new to offer when it comes to wading through these times of life. But as a personal exercise of processing what’s going on in my world, I want to share with you what I’m learning in hopes that something I’ve gained will be useful to you. Before I begin, let me state my biases. I am a Jesus follower who is trying to be serious about becoming more like Him, and that fact impacts the way in which I deal with trials. And second, because I believe Jesus has the answers I am looking for, He is my resource for truth and for answers.
Without going into details, the trial I am facing is something that happened to me, as opposed to something that I caused. This trial is requiring me to adapt to a new normal in a couple of important areas of my life. When viewed from a strictly human perspective, this trial has no obvious or reasonable solution. In other words, if something special (supernatural) doesn’t happen, there’s gonna be trouble.
I’ve had about a week to digest all this. I’ve been praying a lot, thinking a lot, and here’s where I’ve landed so far:
First, the knee-jerk human reaction to a trial is to seek relief. It hurts, and we want it to stop. We want answers, and we want them now. If there’s been an injustice, then somebody needs to pay. I’m not saying that’s the wrong way to think. I’m saying there might be a better way to think.
The better reaction is to seek refinement. As I read the Bible, I learn that not only are trials a universal human experience, but trials seem to be one of God’s favorite methods of teaching humans and revealing Himself. If this is true, trials can be a pivotal experience that yields life-changing results. What if, in response to a trial, our goal becomes to learn the intended lesson instead of finding the quickest way back to what’s comfortable?
And here’s something else that has occurred to me. When we experience difficulty, it isn’t God’s ability to rescue us that is on trial. It’s our faith that God is able to rescue us that hangs in the balance. I can’t recall a single instance when God left a person helpless or hopeless. And neither can I recall God’s power to ever be insufficient to solve any problem of any kind. When faced with a trial, my default prayer is, “God, this thing is huge and hairy and impossible. Can you do anything about this?” I wonder if that isn’t a little offensive to God. If He can part seas and bring dead people back to live, then surely he can deal with my trial, too.
I wish I could offer you a fail safe three step plan to successfully navigate the crises in your life, but I can’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. Until God does His thing, we’re on His timeline. Is there anything we can do in the meantime? I have three suggestions:
Ask Jesus to come close to you, right where you are. You might be angry, or scared, or overwhelmed, or grieving, or a thousand other emotions. Wherever you are and whatever you’re feeling, invite Jesus to sit down right next to you and stay with you. Peace and comfort seem to follow Jesus around, and I believe His presence will be enough to sustain you until the logjam breaks.
Ask for understanding. If your trial has an intended lesson interwoven in it, then ask Jesus exactly what He’s working on in you. This is especially helpful if broken relationships are involved, because people (including you and I) sometime act and react in bizarre ways that aren’t easy to understand. Asking Jesus to show you the deeper dynamics of what’s going on will help you cooperate more fully with the process.
Be willing to accept a new normal. When we are enduring a trial that involves stress and pain, our concept of relief is for God to repair what’s broken by restoring the circumstance back to the way things were. But what if the way things were needed to change? Sometimes God uses trials to break unhealthy habits, end toxic relationships, or nudge us in some direction that we have been until now unwilling to consider. God isn’t only in the business of repairing what’s broken. He is also an expert at creating things more beautiful and healthy than we can imagine. Sometimes a trial is the pathway to something completely new.
Thank you for reading as I try to process my present circumstances. Because trials are an unfortunate part of everyone’s life, I’m confident you have had your share. If you have your own personal insight about how to come to terms with trials, I and whoever else reads this would love to hear them. Please leave a gift of your experience with a comment.
16 thoughts on “Coming To Terms With Trials”
Pastor George thank you for your honesty and your zeal to please and honor God in your life. You are indeed a humble man as well. I will reread your post and ponder on what you have shared which indded
is helpful and true. Our times in the wilderness are God’s time of guiding us and speaking to us and he wants us to take the high road by listening and being patient. the low road would be as you said have the pain taken away and please God fix it now but I believe He desires for us to be still and know that He is God and He is Sovereign and as you said he spoke the world into existence and we read of so many miracles. Then there are those times that we don’t get a direct answer and must wait and just grasp the peace and trust He has to offer us and I believe as He says that His ways are higher than our ways and beyond our understanding.
It is so hard when we have a loss, a hurt , a misunderstanding and in your position of leadership I think it is even harder. So thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts and through that encouraging me.
Thank you so much for your words Mary. Your thoughts are spot on. And thanks for reading. Love and miss you guys.
Pastor George, thank you for sharing your heart, your struggles. So often as a lay person I feel that I just don’t believe and trust my God enough. But I see that a person that walks and talks our Lord’s Words also has to deal with the reality of this world. The good, the bad and the ugly. Thank you for sharing. In my 70 years I too have had ups and downs, trials and tribulations. Some things brought on by myself some not. But over the years I have learned, my peace my strength is only in the Lord. Of course, I get sad, anxious, tired but in the end He brings me through. And as “Meshach, Shadrech and Abednego said, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you , O king that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” Daniel 3:16-18. Just hold on tight to your Savior and Lord, trust Him with all your heart, mind and strength. Remember Satan is the great deceiver. “Greater is He who is me than he who is in the world.”1 John 4-4 And may I share one more…all of these which you know…but have helped me through my years.” Count it all Joy when you fall into various trials… etc. James 1:2-8 Eat, breathe and live His Word. You are loved and appreciated. Praying for you.
Your sister in Christ,
Wow, Julie! Thank you so much for your insights and wisdom. And thank you for reading and your kind words. 🙂
These words resonate in my life as trials seem to come into my life too often. My precious son struggles with drug addiction . Recently, I realized however ( through prayer & attending a beautiful Ministry at my Church, Prodigal) his recovery journey isn’t just about him. It is also about me. Through recent days, I have become closer to the Father. The desire to read the Word & pray has increased ten fold. My son is a believer & this is my comfort as his conviction brings him back to Christ over & over. I must add that Community is a huge part of my life now. If not for my Christian friends, life would be even more difficult. I cling to John 16:33
Thank you for your words. May God richly bless you. Hugs from Texas!
Wow, Becky! What an encouragement your words are! So sorry to hear about your son, but it sounds like you are right where you should be. I admire your faith. Hugs from Florida!
Been going through a trial of my own for awhile. People who suffer definitely can relate to others who are suffering. When you tell someone you understand you really do from experience. I have read a lot of Joni Erickson Tada and found comfort from her writings and her experiences with suffering. She has grown closer to Jesus and so have I. I would say that a person going through trials needs prayer support by friends and family. Don’t go through it alone. There are times when you feel no one really understands what you are going through…yet Jesus does…always. Praying for you. Love you and Margaret.
Hi Melissa! Thanks for reading and adding your experience. I completely agree about prayer from others. Sometimes that’s our lifeline, isn’t it? Wise and valuable cousel. I hope your trials come to an end soon. We love you too!
From your post, it seems that you are under attack again. In my limited experience that mostly indicates that you are doing the RIGHT things to honor God and his Kingdom. I am certainly not well qualified to bring a scriptural dimension in a counseling manner to be helpful in your specific situation, but I do know a couple of things. Firstly, you have been an inspiration to me as a man, as a leader and as a disciple of Jesus since I met you a number of years ago. Can you apply your strengths to yourself? I have also learned that God does not necessarily answers our prayers according to our wishes but to His. I even wonder sometimes that if He answered all of our prayers
all the time, none of us would die because because heaven as we think about it would be here on earth. Our journey, yours and mine to to reach Heaven is loaded with hills and valleys but the destination promises to be so perfect that the journey, no matter how rough, is worth it. All of that may not help but if you need a couple of large ears to listen and a small mouth not to advise (except maybe slip out a bad joke), I am available 24/7.
Hi Richard! Thank you for reading, and thank you for your wisdom. You’re right about your comments- if we’re truly Jesus followers, then the outcome must be more than about me. It has to be about Him. Thank you for being a real friend whom I deeply love and appreciate.
Richard, as I was praying last night, I was thinking the same thing that you responded. He must be doing something right…has blessed me many times with his words…and is under severe spiritual warfare. But as I read in scripture today….The Lord will certainly deliver and draw me to Himself from every assault of evil. He will preserve and bring me safe unto His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen (so be it).—2 TIMOTHY 4: 18 AMP
I’m new at Christ Community but I still feel to comment at this time. About 2 years ago during my small group The Holy Spirit unexpectedly dropped something into my spirit that was so overwhelming I could hardly wait to get to my car so that I could weep before Him. We were closing our session and getting ready to go to our homes when He spoke softly to me, “I want you to KNOW that I’m ALL you need”. It was so real I all but ran to my car and began to weep. I had heard this phrase all my life. “Jesus is all we need ” but I had never really thought a whole lot about what that really looked like. I couldn’t get enough of being in His Presence from then on. Since then I have experienced the hardest and greatest times of my life while he drew me away to sit at His feet for a year and He has proven to me that HE is everything. I find myself trying to think of something good that isn’t from Him, so far He proves to be not only All I need but what I want more than anything in life now. I will never be the same. I can’t get enough of His word without wanting to know more. God is preparing us,
(His church) for something wonderful and let’s hold on together and allow Him to do whatever it takes to get us there . My son recently told me , He never allows anything to come into our life except to point us to Him. He is fighting for us! I’m praying for you.
Oh Martha, what a testimony! I can’t imagine what that must have felt like when you really heard from Him! Thank you for praying for me. My ordeal is far from earth-shattering, and whatever happens, it will be OK. My favorite line that you wrote is “God is preparing us for something wonderful and let’s hold on together and allow him to do whatever it takes to get us there.” Those are perfect words, and that’s what I want too. Thank you again so much.
When we are weak, we are strong…..
What a wonderful consolation…..no…..what a wonderful foundation
Thank you Pastor, for heartfelt sharing and encouraging words. I’ve learned so much from Bible teachers like Zac Poonen, in Bangalore. There was a time when my life went from “perfect” to utter devastation. I ended up with panic attacks and went nearly bald for two years. Agh! But the Lord walked me thru every loss, betrayal, and anguish.
Brother Zac wrote: “…if you are thirsting for God’s best, He will deal with you ruthlessly, cutting out the cancers that are ruining you and destroying the idols that corrupt you. He will allow you go suffer pain, disappointment, loss, shattered hopes, humiliation, unjust criticism, etc, in order to bring you to that place of stability – where you can’t be shaken any more.” (from Secrets of Victory)
Sorry to write so much!
God never wastes our afflictions, but has true purpose in them, breaking us for deeper service and “conforming us to the image of His Son”.
Lastly, Pastor Dave Wilkerson used to preach, “When you’re in the fiery furnace, God’s hand is on the thermostat!”
Lisa, I’m humbled that you took time to read and respond with such relevant and encouraging words. Sounds like you have a great deal of experience in the area of trials! I’m so sorry they were so painful. But your words are so true and right on target- God doesn’t waste hurt, and if we can get to the place where we cooperate with His process, our lives are transformed. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with me and everyone who reads. God bless!
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