Sigh. I love trials, don't you?
Ok, I pretty much sounded like someone whose brain has a screw loose. I mean, who in their right mind likes trials? And truth be told, while we're actually in the trials, we certainly do not.
But looking back at them, oh, how marvelous they are.
Trials and difficult times are not fun. They are certainly not something we all pine for. I think it would be pretty shocking for a Christian to pray, "And Lord, that you would bless me with a hardship, a trial, something that rocks me to my core and brings me to my knees weeping. Thank You!" Yeah. Right. I don't think that would be me.
But I am reminded of a song by MercyMe, in which the lyrics say,
Bring me joy, bring me peace / Bring the chance to be free /
Bring me anything that brings You glory /
And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain /
But if that's what it takes to praise you /
Jesus bring the rain ...
Oh, what faith! What devotion to God! Would it not bless God's heart for all of us Christians to pray, "God, I don't care what it takes for me to fall on my knees bringing praise and glory to Your Name. Send joy, send peace, but if it be Your will, oh God, send the rain."
It is so true, though, that the result of trials is utmost praise to the Father. After passing through the flames, we look at ourselves and realize that we have been refined -- we shimmer like gold. We become closer to the Father. And we praise Him for it! My dear saints, trials are not pleasurable. At times, they can be downright devastating. But I pray that you will have the strength to endure and the faith to know that something incredibly beautiful will come out of it.
And take heart! For those Christians that go through trials are the ones whom God is using! Like Jesus says in John 15:2, "... every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." So not only are trials a sign that you are bearing fruit already, but they are a promise that you will bear even more fruit than before!
I think of a young man who somewhat illustrates this point. He was a basketball player on my brother's team in high school, way back when. He was a pretty solid player. He was a decent shooter, but he owned at defense. That was his strength. Overall, the coaches valued his playing, and he was greatly admired by teammates and peers.
When all of a sudden, the worst happened -- and injury to his leg left him completely incapacitated and unable to play ball. For a long time.
I am sure he cried out to God in agony, wondering why he would be left out an entire season due to such an injury. He loved the game so much! And it was because of this passion that he started doing something amazing. He would sit down on the floor of the gym (not in a chair--on the floor)and shoot hoops. With pure arm stength. All day long.
Day by day, the muscles in his arms toughened, he became stronger overall, and his shooting accuracy rose even higher. So by the time he healed up and came back to play, he was unstoppable. He had become the ultimate player. Not only did he still maintain his incredible defense skills, but he had the shooting ability as well -- better than anyone on his team.
It is truly amazing how God can use something like that injury in our lives and make us so much better than we were before. If the young man had not been unable to use his legs and play ball, he would not have sat on the gym floor all those hours shooting hoops, increasing his strength. But because of that, he came back better than ever before and became the star player of his team!
My brothers and sisters, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4, italics mine) Ride out the storm. Let God do His work. Let Him shatter the clay so He can build it into something bigger and better. Then you will be perfect and complete, lacking NOTHING. What an amazing promise!
And don't be ashamed if you feel weak, frustrated, or depressed during such a time. We are still flesh. God is still our Great High Priest who sympathizes with our every weakness (Hebrews 4:15). He knows trials are hard! All He wants us to do is to have faith in Him, to not forsake Him, nor forget His love for us.
Believe. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
"I will bring [them] through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My Name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The Lord is my God."