We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Trials, tests, tribulations and pain are all a promise of our walk with the Lord Jesus, part of the process He uses to make us reflect His image. Have you ever experienced trials, persecutions, sorrow or grief? Every child of God faces difficulties or sorrow at some point in the journey, so we all have probably felt the pain of such seasons. The weight of grief feels as if it will drag us down, the arrow is aimed at our most tender desire (Lamentations 3:12), the furnace is hotter than we think we can bear (Proverbs 17:3), the path ahead assigned to us is narrower and crookeder than we think we can squeeze through (Lamentations 3:7), the travail of our mind so fierce that we want to give up (Lamentations 3:5,8).
Whatever the case is, the purpose of every trial remains the same: “The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). Every hardship we encounter as believers is all for His praise and His glory—and in turn, for our ultimate sanctification and glorification (Romans 8:28). God never lets any pain go through our lives without using it to bring forth precious fruit, if we have a teachable spirit.
Can you think of a human being who went through more physical pain, grief and trauma (besides our Lord Jesus) than the man Job? The first words from his mouth, after he was terribly stricken were, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). This man went through unspeakable agony and sorrow. Think of the extent of his grief, that he “rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground.” He sat in ashes for months in his unimaginable grief. When his “friends” came from afar to comfort him, they were so shocked by the depth of his sorrow that they spoke not a WORD for seven whole days and nights (2:13). That is a long time of complete silence!
Can you even imagine Job’s physical appearance? However, consider the fact that though Job did regret his conception, he would not curse or turn from God. How was this true, when he had experienced the greatest earthly loss that any man has ever known, besides Christ (the Lord allowed the enemy to do whatever he could to destroy Job’s faith besides kill him— Job 1:12)? He would not allow himself to gauge God’s love by his physical situation. “He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). What words of faith and hope from a man who trusted in the ultimate goodness and love of God through devastation. We too can say that when our Father shall bring us forth from life’s trials more like gold, more valuable in His sight, more purified for His use. We can trust that God will never leave or forsake us, and no matter what we face on earth, we will one day experience the full joy of dwelling in His heavenly presence (John 17:24).“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) There is nothing, neither life nor death, that can ever separate us from the love of our Savior.
I think God’s love is never so clearly demonstrated toward us than during trials. It proves that we are truly His children (Revelation 3:19) and that He cares enough about us to make us more beautiful in His sight. Whatever has stricken you, do not give in to natural sinful doubts like, “What have I done to deserve this?” “Is God really in control of this situation?” “Can He really use those in authority over my life to bring about His will?” “How can God really love me and allow me to go through this much pain?”
Nay, my dearest friend, refuse to doubt God’s sovereign goodness toward you in the midst of the pain. Instead start repeating (aloud if necessary) His promises found throughout His Word. “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish” (Proverbs 10:3). The lies and doubts in our minds are the darts the slanderer uses against us. Ephesians 6:11 commands, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” It is followed by, “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Hebrews 4:12 explains why: “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Word is SO sharp — use it! God is not a liar and His Word will never return void.
Remember that although in our deepest trials and darkest nights, it may feel like the Lord is not near us, He is never gently closer to our side than when He purifies and prunes us. Hebrews 13:8 promises, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Our Savior is not sitting afar off and cutting off branches in our life for His own entertainment or just to see us suffer.
“The Lord will not cast off forever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lamentations 3:31). Our Master refines us in the multitude of His mercies, which are newly fresh every day (Lamentations 3:23). He leads us through the heat of the furnace to remove the dross in our life (Proverbs 25:4) and bring us forth, reflecting more clearly the image of His Son. He takes us through this process over and over again because He immensely loves us.
No trial that the Lord ever places in our lives will ever be too hard for us to bear or conquer. It may be to our very limit of endurance, but never surpassing it. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We have been promised His strength, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). Jesus says, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
You see, the most beautiful thing about trials is that they force us to stare blankly at the end of our strength and to see His never-ending source of strength. We have to admit our weakness and run to Jesus Christ for the strength we so desperately need to trust Him minute by minute and to come forth as a conqueror, still trusting in His love and sovereignty at the end of the day. Trials make our prayers more frequent, earnest and desperate, so that we can then taste His all sufficient love and grace. Read about David’s earnest desire and plea for God’s strength in the midst of a fierce trial in Psalm 63. What a man of staunch faith and yearning for God!
Dear sister, wherever you are today, my heart goes out to you. I pray that the Lord would make your heart tender and learnable under His gentle hand. I pray that you will humbly submit to His will in this season and come forth more tender and purified because of His loving efforts. If you scorn its pain and reject His will in this trial, He will only have to intensify the heat around you to melt the hardness of your heart. Be pliable and submissive to Him. Learn what God wants to teach you; please don’t flee and turn a calloused heart upon His loving teaching.
Remember, that though it may not seem like it from a fleshly perspective, God’s plan for your life is exhaustively detailed and perfect. There is not a second in your future that is out of His plan or control. He planned this trial in your life; it is not an accident or mistake. And take joy and comfort in knowing that your Father even uses your own failures and sins throughout this trial to bring about His perfect plan of good and sanctification.
“He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). Christ refines us as gold and silver — not as dirt and mud — to offer us up as an acceptable sacrifice of righteousness to God His Father. What an honor!This earthly furnace of affliction is but ten minutes long, in light of an eternal hell fire. Let us never cease to remember from what we have been redeemed — the judgement of our own sin. May we always praise Him, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We will reach the other side of Glory safely—and it will be all the more glorious because of these fiery afflictions!