Trials: Oh Joy!


Something I hate.

Yet, kind of sort of love.

It’s an interesting dichotomy. I loathe feeling like my world is crashing down. The feeling that I can’t control what’s happening around me is scary.

I feel weak and discouraged. I feel that I’ve made a mistake. AGAIN. Often times it comes back on me. I’m up all night thinking about what I did wrong or how I could have said or done something differently. Other times, I did what I could do but still didn’t get the results I’d longed for.

Sometimes, I’m in a trial. It could be with relationships or with a job or with depression, for which I can’t give a root cause. Trials can sometimes be pointed back to a source. That’s where it started. That’s what I can change. That’s what’s going to make it all better. Other times, I don’t know why I’m feeling the way I do or why things aren’t getting better.

Trials show me that I am weak.

But, they also show me that God is strong.

Trials remind me that I am, in fact, not invincible. Who would have guessed, right? 

Even more than that, they remind me that God is all powerful, all knowing, and full of love.

Wow! What a contrast.

Trials show me that I need God. They point me back to the source of life.

We read in the Book of James to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

How often is our first instinct to be joyful when a trial is thrown our way?

I don’t know about you, but my initial reaction is to push back. I want to talk my way out of the problem (or about the problem to whomever will listen), solve it, prove myself to people, or just convince myself that I didn’t even want what I lost anyway.

I do not do well with pausing and considering my trials a joy. My natural instinct isn’t to pray; I don’t want to thank God for trials that are going to show me more of Him. I just want the trials to go away. I want to aggressively fight through them, so that I will win.

Here’s the thing, though, trials are not our battles to win. They are the Lord’s.

Living a life fully for God means letting Him get the glory and Him show Himself victorious. In the bigger picture, we are but a small piece of God’s mighty puzzle. His purpose is to make Himself known, in all His glory and love; and He does that by weaving through the threads of our lives.

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

God gives us resources to fight through struggles with the enemy (satan), but we have to let God work! The whole point and purpose is to draw us back to Himself. God desires our hearts. He desires to change our hearts and make us more like Christ.

That’s why part of me loves trials. I love the way it feels to connect with God – to reach out for Him and have Him be right there for me. When I pray and open up to God, there’s a flood of peace that overtakes me. I know that no matter what happens, God is in control and He loves me. I have to admit that at first, God might seem far away… Sometimes I have trouble even opening my mouth to pray. But, I know and God promises that He will be there.

Trials don’t have to be seen as bad. They can actually be good and refining. At times it may be hard to recognize any sort of benefit of a trial, but God knows what He’s doing. He’s going to use everything for our good. That ultimate good is to draw us to Himself because He is the ultimate source of love and peace.

2 thoughts on “Trials: Oh Joy!

  1. Emily, I appreciated your last two blogs. Yes…currently walking through some significant trials. My engagement in my trials have been a bit more feisty with God in the midst–think Jacob wresting. I so appreciate your heart and courage to address a subject that Christians acknowledge but want to brush under the carpet. Keep writing…it’s such a beautiful way to express what He has put inside us!

  2. Dear Emily, I don’t know how old you are, but you appear young, at least compared to me. I’m 68.

    Yes, trials are never fun. Due to a very risky stock decision, I once lost $36,000 in one day. And I hadn’t told my wife I was making such a risky investment. How hard do you think it was to tell her after the fact? But fortunately I had a very kind and understanding wife. She’s passed on now.

    But I learned something from that, even though I lost several nights of sleep over it and endured much stress.

    And needless to say I’ve experienced many other trials too numerous to mention. But in each one I learned something and grew from it. But did I enjoy it at the time? Can’t say that I did.

    If there’s one thing I know, it’s this. We may enjoy the mountaintop experiences with God and feel blessed by them and appreciate them. But truly, it’s in the valleys we grow.

    God bless. I for one appreciate your heart for God,

    ~ Larry Ebaugh

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