No one wants to experience trials, but they may be of more value that we think.
James, Peter and even Jesus spoke about trials and troubles, encouraging us to find joy in the midst of the struggles and to find strength in the knowledge that Christ has overcome the world. In each case, it is clear that trials are an expected part of life, but we have the power of God within us to come through these valleys and do so victoriously.
Recently, I asked a small group I lead the question, "How would you describe a trial?" There was a moment of silence, then one member spoke up, "Trials come from God." I confess, it was not the answer I expected, but I was intrigued. Typically, people I know do not think God is responsible for difficult things, so I was interested to know what inspired that response.
"God does not tempt us," he said, "but God does send trials for our own good." As challenging as that is to some ears, there is tremendous truth in those words. Trials can be tools in the hand of God to shape us, equip us and strengthen us. Just like the effort expended at the gym, our work through trials can strengthen us for the future.
I often struggle accepting this when I face my own trials. Typically, I work to avoid these struggles, but that usually results in frustration; and another trip through the same valley. When I look at these moments as opportunities to better understand who I am and who God is in me, when I embrace my trials as a means to grow in strength and faith, something redemptive begins to emerge.
The best part is that even in the midst of the valley, in the midst of the fire, we are not alone. God is with us. Therefore, we can fear no evil. We can be comforted, and we can make it through. With each step we take, we become stronger and trusting God, we rise to levels of victory in Christ.
While we do not seek trials, when they come into our lives, we can turn to God for direction, power and hope, and by God's grace we come through. As we embrace the power of resistance and struggle to make us stronger, we accept this part of the training and anticipate the results that will come from it.