I don’t like to be in pain. Be it physical, emotional, spiritual – I dislike the experience of pain. I know that pain can bring positive end results… and so I exercise even when I don’t feel like it. But pain is not a fun experience.
Let me guess: You know what I’m talking about.
As we’ve looked at life’s setbacks and detours, we’ve already seen two reasons why they are a part of life: because God’s plans are bigger than our plans, and because the world is broken. Today we’ll look at a third reason for setbacks in life: God allows trials and difficulties in order to refine our faith and teach us important things.
First, though, let me be clear: God does not tempt us. James 1:13-14 is very clear about this point. Yet right before he makes this clear, James is explaining the value of trials in our lives (James 1:2-12).
Why does God bring trials into our lives?
While temptations attempt to draw us away from God – something He would never want, and in our deepest souls neither would we – trials have the goal of drawing us closer to God.
Okay, as usual, Scripture explains it better than I can. Peter reminds his friends that “…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, these has come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
As I reflect back on the trials in my life, I see God’s faithfulness and strength in ways that I just don’t notice as much during the peaceful seasons. I see myself on my knees in the living room, crying, reading Scripture, clinging to God in my bewilderment and pain. These trials, and my perseverance through them, strengthened my faith and brings praise, glory, and honor to my Lord.
I don’t like pain. But I do like the depth and intimacy of my relationship with Jesus. I not only like this, I need it. And this relationship would not be what it is today without the trials and grief of unexpected (to me) detours in life.
What trial are you in today? Seek God in it. Cry out to him. He is with you.