We all face them. Annoying little problems. Medium sized obstacles that make us have to stop in our tracks. And those major issues that knock us flat on our faces. No one enjoys trials. In fact, most of us do just about anything we can to avoid them. Or to get out of them as soon as possible!
- So how can we find joy in trials?
- And why on earth would we even want to try?
The Biggest Obstacle—Me!
My human nature just wants the problem gone. I want a magic wand to wave so that I don’t have to be annoyed, frustrated, or upset. I want an easy life. I want comfort and pleasant things.
- Just make the grocery line with 5 people ahead of me go FASTER. I don’t want to wait!
- I want everyone to be kind to me and my family and loved ones. People shouldn’t mistreat us and if they do, they just need to change ASAP!
- I think illness, pain, problems, and suffering need to just vanish. I want to find the cure and make it all better right now.
- I don’t like waiting.
- I don’t like suffering and I don’t want to see anyone I know and love suffer.
My definition of what is “good” is that I get what I want when I want it, which is now. And I never have to go through anything painful.
My sinful nature is a lot like a child. If I had total freedom to decide what I wanted to eat as a little kid, I may have chosen to have only sugary stuff and junk food.
It tastes good in the moment, what else could possibly matter, right?
As a grown adult, I know that my body can’t possibly be healthy on only sugary snacks and junk food. In fact, I know now that if I only ate cookies, cake, candy, and chips for months or years, I would make myself very sick. My body would be lacking in real nutrition. I would become weak and out of shape. My body couldn’t possibly function at its best if I don’t take proper care of it by eating healthy food.
It takes discipline to take good care of my body—to get the exercise, rest, and healthy food I need. I am the one who benefits most when I treat my body well so that it is healthy in the long run. My loved ones benefit, too.
God’s Ways Are Different from Our Ways
God gives us counsel that sounds very odd to our human ears. But in it, He is sharing heavenly spiritual treasure with us, if only we have ears to hear.
He says things like:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 4:2-4 ESV
For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises every son He receives.” Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Heb. 12:7-11 ESV
The secret to counting difficult things and problems as joy are truths like these:
- God is good.
- He is sovereign.
- His motives toward me are loving and kind.
- He has spiritual treasures He wants to share with me in the midst of each hardship.
- His greatest goal is to conform me to the image of Christ.
- Even Jesus went through suffering to learn obedience to the Father.
- This is a refining fire that will help me grow in maturity, faith, perseverance, and strength.
I like to think of trials as being like a deep, dark cave, or better yet, a mine. If you have ever visited a silver mine, or any other kind of mine, you know that you have to go through a long maze of dark, twisty, scary tunnels to get to the vein of silver, gold, or precious gems.
Now, when something difficult crops up in my life, my goal is to seek to quickly remember that God has spiritual treasures and beautiful gems to share with me in these dark places. If I am with Him, I don’t need to be afraid.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim. 1:7 ESV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 ESV