There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold— though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
God is always good, and He uses all things for his glory. During hardships, trials, tests and pain, God has something good in it, even though we may not see it at first. But Peter is right up front about it, he doesn’t bury it in the fine print, “there will be pain.” And while we sign the Christianity Contract with Jesus’ blood from the cross, there can, and probably will be, some of ours mingled in along life’s journey for purification purposes.
I do not know anyone who wants their heart to be drug through a briar patch, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. But God knows we will develop character, and our spirit is strengthened when we are tested. There is something about pain that brings about a deeper awareness of our human frailty. The things we cherished as important in life, now seem pale and even silly. A cancer diagnosis offers clarity about material things or family disputes. They just want to live and live with a clean slate! All the splinters and rough edges seem to soften while clinging to the old rugged cross.
Can your faith stand the test of fire? Is it balsa wood or fine gold? How do you respond to suffering and pain? Do you rejoice?
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 NLT
I must confess, my past experiences with pain have not been banner presentations of mature Christianity. Oh, I have had some positive displays, but my testimony is littered with “God, why are you allowing this is my life? And haven’t I prayed enough or been faithful enough?” Those pitiful presentations were met with…crickets…and more silence. God develops endurance in our spirit as we EXERCISE our faith. God knows exactly what you and I can handle! Our character develops as we depend on Him!
A few years ago, I was offering encouragement about going through trials, and a reader responded with a very typical response, “What do you know about problems, you’ve got it made?!” Isn’t it funny how other people see you? All she could see was where I was now, not where I had been at one time. I shared a story about my first challenge as a new Christian.
I was a new Christian, on fire, and ready to share Jesus with the world. My ex-husband was not a Christian, and my belief did not fit with his life. He walked in one morning while I was preparing the twins in their car seats and announced, “Don’t take it personal but I do not want to be married to you anymore.” While not a complete shock, the timing and circumstances did throw me for a second. I continued preparing the boys and headed to the car to teach my classes. I quickly learned the importance of depending on God. He decided to stop paying the house and car payments, and they were soon taken away.
Almost overnight I was without a car, home, or enough income to feed the four children. What would I do?
Here’s the beautiful thing, God knew I could handle the trials and challenges that had been thrown in my direction, and that knowing sustained me. I would not be a victim! I was more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus my Lord! He wrote my story of redemption. He knew I would choose to fall forward on my faith. When the world throws curve balls, God shows you how to hit home runs! He is my Completion Coach and Sustaining Savior.
The emphasis is always about God, and never about us. While we do not want to be a victim, we do not want to claim the credit. He is the One worthy of honor and praise! We must be careful not to take our testimony and make it into a ME show. As in, look at me. The devil is a devious demon, and we must be careful not to fall into the trap of self-honoring victim.
God is developing your character to help someone else. Have you walked through the fire and survived triumphantly? You may be the person to help someone else. Have you lost someone close to you? You can share the hope you found in Christ with someone struggling. Did God help you overcome an addiction? There is someone who needs to hear that story.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
My friend, if you allow God to lead you through life, He will show you how to turn pain into gain. Then one day there will be no more suffering, and you will be enjoying the warmth of the Son, to the glory of the Father. Amen!