For believers in Christ, trials are immensely valuable. I’m not saying that the times we are tested by suffering, hardship, difficulty, pain, rejection, mistreatment, and other forms of adversity are something we ought to ask for, seek out, or desire for their own sake. I’m not suggesting that we become ascetics who see inherent value in pain or that we should have a twisted desire for suffering. But God does have a reason for allowing and bringing trials into our lives, and it helps to remember that the “trials of this life,” as a recent song has described them, are God’s “mercies in disguise” for His children. This list is by no means exhaustive of what the Bible teaches on this subject, but these are among the things we need to remember as we reflect on past trials, endure present ones, and anticipate future ones. I hope you are encouraged by these truths today.
- Trials remind us that we are in a fallen world, and that we’re not home yet (2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Revelation 21:4).
- Trials remind us that we can’t take our circumstances for granted and must not rely on what is unstable, but rather on our unchanging Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
- Trials remind us that we are insufficient to face life on our own, but that we must have God’s help; opportunity to know firsthand the sufficiency of Christ through the power of the God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9).
- Trials provide opportunities to be strong in Christ through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).
- Trials help produce the patience necessary to grow us to maturity (James 1:2-4).
- Trials help purify our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7).
- Trials give us the opportunity to better learn, understand, appreciate, and obey the Word of God (Psalm 119:71).
- Trials provide opportunities to forsake idols of comfort, convenience, and having out own way, so that we can be content in Christ no matter what our circumstances (Philippians 4:10-13).
- Trials provide opportunities to exercise and demonstrate faith, hope, and the fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues are cultivated in the context of trials and circumstances that will call forth the opposite vices in unbelievers.
- Trials are always given in the context of the promise that we would have tribulation but that Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). Trials are not unforeseen to God. He promised that in this world they would come, but that we could have peace in Christ, the One who has overcome.
- Trials are not exempt from the universal declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. In fact, they are the first thing named in that list (Romans 8:35-39), and part of the “all things” that work together for our good, conforming us to His image (Romans 8:28-29).
- Trials prepare us to minister the encouragement of the Lord to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- Trials can open up previously closed doors to spread the gospel (Philippians 1:12; 1 Peter 3:15)
- Trials cannot extinguish true joy. Paul rejoiced in his abundant suffering (2 Corinthians 6:10). He told believers to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). James said to count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:2). Peter reminds us to rejoice in the power of God that keeps us through the time of trial, that gave us birth to a living hope by the resurrection of Christ and that has a glorious inheritance waiting for us that cannot be taken away or destroyed (1 Peter 1:3-6)
May God grant that we remember the truths He has given us in His Word when we reflect upon and face trials – experiences that are custom-designed to burn away the dross in our lives, purify our faith, make us more useful to others, and help us cling ever closer to our only hope, the grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ.