How do you react when trials come on you? Some people get angry. Maybe they get angry with themselves for messing up. Maybe they get angry with others and respond with vengeance. Maybe they give in to the trial and get depressed. Maybe they feel sorry for themselves. Maybe they fight the trial, seeking to overcome it. Some throw up their hands and give up. Many say “why me?” But few of us are happy for our trials. They are painful and undesirable. Why should we want to go through them? But a Christian can glory in tribulations – “but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom 5:3-4). A similar passage is in James 1:2-4 “My brethren, 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.”
I understand that there are at least two reasons for rejoicing in our trials. First, we realize that God is working on us to develop the characteristics that he wants us to have. Without trials, we stay where we are and do not grow. Trials have the potential to change us into what He wants us to be. He wants us to be loving, patient, compassionate, gentle, unselfish, humble, etc. – many characteristics that we don’t usually start off with. We can be joyful that God loves us and is making us into the image of His son. 2 Cor 4:16-17 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” We are being purified like the Levites. Malachi 3:2-3 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” God wants us to be righteous like Himself and His son, Jesus Christ.
A second reason is that God wants us to depend on Him rather than on our strength. The apostle Paul experienced a “thorn in the flesh”. He pleaded with the Lord three times to have it taken away. 2 Co 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God wants our trust and dependence to be in Him and Jesus Christ and not in ourselves.
It requires strong faith that God is using our trials to develop our trust in Him and to make us more like Him. But let us rejoice that we can trust Him through our trials.