Friday, March 10, 2017

Why Trials?

Most of us would rather not talk about trials and tribulations, but when I went through the grief and struggles of a miscarriage about five years ago, I discovered that everyone is going through something.

I've found that trodding through trials tends to make us more gracious, more empathetic, more understanding and more loving.  It can make the Body of Christ a more beautiful thing because we get it; we understand.  We've been there.  The sad thing is that trials can also obliterate us.  We can allow ourselves to turn mean, cynical and bitter after a trial.

And why is it that trials rarely seem to come one at a time?  They stack.  They crowd.  They pile on!

The kind of trials that are not the results of evildoing, meddling or sins like murder or theft are a part of suffering with Christ.  (Consequences or results of bad or sinful decisions are not the trials I am chatting about today.)

These true trials are a part of living life as a Christian 
in a fallen world.  

When we find ourselves in these hard times, we tend to wrestle with that dreaded question, "Why?"  

Why am I in this?

Why isn't God doing anything?

Why aren't my prayers being answered?

Why do I have to go through this?


Reflecting on the book of Psalms, the psalmist asked some really tough questions, causing me to believe that it isn't wrong to ask God a tough question, provided it's asked with a respectful attitude.

He is still God, after all.

As Christians, it's good for us to go to the Word for some of the reasons we go through trials.

Romans 5:3 sheds some light on that question,
"...we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that our tribulation brings about perseverance..."

James 1:2-3 agrees,
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance..."  

Exulting or glorying in our trials is a tall order, as is considering a trial a joy.  In my trials, I read these verses and knew I couldn't do either of those things.  I went to the Rugged Mountain Man and said, "I can't do that yet.  I don't even know if I *want* to rejoice in these trials."  He comforted me and encouraged me not to give up, not to despair.

I eventually came to realize that that rejoicing is a work of the Spirit.

No one truly in the throes of a heart-wrenching, back-breaking trial rejoices,
in and of themselves.

But God can work that joy and glorying.  It's a spiritual thing, brought about by the Spirit.

Opening your eyes each morning to find yourself still in the midst of the hardest times of your life, is like hearing tragic news for the first time, over and over again.  The mornings are the worst times in grief or trials.

BUT, we can remind ourselves that we have a response to our question why?  We have an "in" on the lesson.

"Today I'm in this trial, so I learn to persevere."

We can tell ourselves, "I'm getting up right now, so I can endure,
so I can put one foot in front of the other today."

We could be thinking, "This trial doesn't have a point.  I don't feel like there is a lesson,
other than torture here."

But there is.

"Today, I am going to endure in His strength.  Today, I'm going to just keep going, by God's grace."

We'll get to the point of rejoicing over a trial.  It may be somewhere down the road that we can look back and "feel" a little happiness about what we learned in that trial.  It's okay that we don't right now.  It is a work of the Spirit, not a feeling of our flesh.  For now, we can see that there is a point to trials.  We see it by faith.

It's to endure.  


All pics from our hike on a mine camp trail, in which there was a series of seven switchbacks on an old railroad grade.  
We all found it to be quite fascinating, as we imagined the manpower it took to build it.