Read (from the New Living Translation)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Wally from The Wally Show is back with a perspective you may not have thought of before.
Often when we face those life altering hurts we think, “God why are you doing this to me?” But what if God is not doing something to you, but rather is looking to do something through or for you?
I do not believe God causes pain, but I do believe he redeems it and uses the bad in life for good. In pain we have a choice.
Do we point people to God or do we steer people away from Him based on how we choose to go through the situation? Many times we do not have a choice when it comes to hurt. Maybe your marriage dissolved at no fault of your own, maybe you are a casualty of downsizing at work, or maybe you suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of someone who was supposed to love you. Those are things we would never choose, but we do have a choice in how we react to these events.
Writer Jon Acuff, who we’ve had on the show many times, spoke at my church. He talked about an email he received from a soldier who just got back from Afghanistan who lost her leg and was wondering how this could possibly be God’s plan for her life.
This is a tough question and you may not like the answer. When it comes to trials in this life the Bible says in James 1:2-4 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
I don’t know about you, but as my life implodes I rarely consider it joy. Yet this is how the Bible says we should view the trials of this life.
For me the take away is that even pain has a purpose. Sometimes it’s so other people come to know God because of how they see you go through your trials. Other times the trials are designed to cement you to God. I know that in the good times my faith can become stagnant. It is usually in the tough times where my faith grows.
It is that principle of no pain no gain.
Athletes are well aware of this. The pain they experience is what enables them to perform at a higher level. Our faith can be viewed the same way.
Another way to look at this is like a battle. Soldiers who go through battle together form a tight bond because they have to rely on each other to survive. Their resolve is tested, trust is developed, and a relationship is formed from sharing that experience. This too is applicable when it comes to our relationship with God and hard times.
If we look at it through the right lens we see clearly the character of God when we face difficult times. We see that He can be trusted as our faith is tested. We see His provision when we focus and Him rather than our life-consuming problems. The result is – our strength and relationship with Him grows. Ultimately that is what we should seek, even above comfort, but I realize that is a very tall order.
I don’t know what God has planned for the solder who lost her leg, but I do know this:
Even the things we would never choose have a way of being good for us and others when we allow God to be a part of it instead of pushing Him away.
So how do you face the trials of life when we have been conditioned inside our faith to pretend everything is unicorns and rainbows when it is not and that if we have doubts or concerns that somehow makes us bad believers?
The good news is, as you process looking at pain in a different light, you are not alone. Most of the heroes of the Bible faced trials and even questioned God. The thing is, God is big enough to handle your doubts questions and fears. So here are three things to keep in mind as you walk through tough times:
- Admit you’re hurting.
- Be honest with God about what you are feeling.
- Remember that God is for you and not against you.
Laura Story’s song Blessings really speaks to this principle of pain having a purpose.
We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe
‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.
One practical thing you can try as you face trials, is to find one thing in life to praise God for when you are struggling. When you feel heavy, praise Him for that one thing again, and again, and again. What you might find in doing this is you will find other things to be thankful for and before you know it, your focus shifts from what you do not have to what you do have and are thankful for.
Also, you will have been praying all day which ultimately helps build your relationship with God, giving a purpose for the pain.
Notes from the Beyond Suffering Bible
Perseverance Is Hard – When we face trials and hardships, our instinct may be either to take control and solve the problem or to run away from it. James says such trials help us develop maturity and perseverance. The key is to endure suffering faithfully, remaining focused on the final goal: to become more and more like our Savior.