I was four months pregnant and incredibly excited to be having a little girl when we got some news that stopped my husband and I right in our tracks. The ultrasound technician had noticed some suspicious spots on our routine prenatal ultrasound, and while they were probably nothing, they could be an indication that our unborn child had a serious chromosomal disorder that would change all of our lives forever.
We decided to have further testing done immediately, just to ease our minds, but we wouldn’t have the results back for 7-10 business days.
It was a tense couple of weeks until we finally got the call we’d been waiting for—the test had come back negative. Our baby had a low risk of being born with this particular problem.
Talking to my husband later that night, he shared with me how worried he had been waiting for the results. I asked him, “How much have you prayed over the last couple of weeks?” “Nonstop!” he replied.
Of all the obstacles that hold people back from a deeper relationship with God, the question of “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” is definitely one of the most common. After all, if God can prevent bad things from happening to us, why doesn’t He? Isn’t it mean or cruel for Him to allow us to endure so much suffering when He could eradicate all human suffering with no more than a snap of His fingers?
It would seem so.
And yet, I’m going to argue the opposite.
As unpleasant and as senseless as our suffering can be sometimes, I’m going to argue that Christians today need MORE trials, not less. And here are five reasons why.
1. Trials Force Us to Draw Near to God
I don’t know about you, but when left to my own devices, I don’t always make God the #1 priority in my life like I should. I get busy. I get distracted. I get complacent. I start seeing all of my successes and failures in terms of what I’ve done instead of what God has done and is doing. And yet, when I find myself facing one of life’s inevitable trials, I suddenly get a whole lot more spiritual.
Isn’t it the same with you?
As much as we try to be good Christians and put God first on a regular basis, trials sure have a way of making us dig in deep. We pray more. We read our Bibles more. We ask for advice and try to improve our lives more. All of those things we should have been doing all along, but weren’t until we got the wake-up call we needed.
God doesn’t ask us to be comfortable; He asks us to be holy. And if a stern wake-up call is what it takes, then that’s what it takes.
2. Trials Help Us Help Others
Another thing that’s important to remember is that it’s not always about us. God loves the sinner as much as the saint. He is working in their lives too, and oftentimes He uses us to do it. And sometimes that requires a bit of inconvenience on our part.
After all, how would we know how to help the hurting if we hadn’t already experienced great hurt as well? How would we know how to walk alongside those who are struggling if we hadn’t also struggled ourselves? How could we inspire others with our amazing story of forgiveness and hope if we had never had anything to overcome?
It’s one thing to tell a hurting friend “Everything will be okay” because you believe it. It’s another to be able to tell them “Everything will be okay” because you’ve lived it.
3. Trials Deepen Our Faith
“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
It’s one thing to say how Christians should respond to trials when life is going great. It’s quite another to actually respond appropriately when you’re in the midst of one.
It’s easy to say God is in control when your family is happy and healthy–not so easy when you are grieving the loss of a child. It’s easy to trust God with your finances when you have plenty–not so easy when you don’t know how you’re going to make rent this month. It’s easy to say God works all things for good when your life is going great–not so easy when the latest shooting hits a little too close to home.
But the good news is, as we endure these trials, our suffering is never in vain. God uses these trials to draw us closer to Himself, test our commitment, grow our character and strengthen our faith. And what could be more important than that?
4. Trials Make Us an Example for Others
The sad reality is–people deal with some pretty significant hurts every day. While some weather them gracefully, others simply don’t know how they will ever make it through. And sometimes they look up to us as examples.
When others see us cling to our faith through times of great trial, it gives them the courage to cling to their faith through times of great trial. When others hear our inspiring stories of undeserved forgiveness, it gives them the courage to forgive even when it’s difficult as well. And even when the consequences are totally our fault for messing up big time, they may be just the reminder or lesson someone else needs to keep their life on track.
The truth is you never know who is watching nor what kind of impact your actions–both big and small–will have on others.
5. Trials Shape Our Behavior
If you have children, what do you do when they aren’t on their best behavior? You discipline them. Not to be mean or vindictive, but because you love them and you want to make sure they learn how to behave appropriately.
Well, it should come as no surprise then, that God does the same with us.
Imagine if God never disciplined anyone. Most everyone would run around doing whatever they wanted, getting into all sorts of trouble! Yes, most of us strive to be the best Christians we can be, but in the absence of discipline, it’s all too easy to get caught up in things we know we shouldn’t.
Trials don’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes they are simply a matter of God using our circumstances to get us back on track where we need to be. And personally, if I’m royally messing up in a certain area, I’d rather have a period of trial and get back on track rather than simply be allowed to wander off in any direction I please without any course correction at all.
“Proverbs 3:11-13 My child, do not reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t get angry when he corrects you. The Lord corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in. Happy is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gets understanding.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not actively wishing for more trouble in this life. Yes, of course I would love for everything to go smoothly all of the time. And yet, that’s not necessarily in my best interest–or yours.
So yes, it’s okay to want a nice, happy life–but that shouldn’t be our ultimate aim. At the end of the day, we should all be striving to reach the point where we can honestly say, “Lord, mold me. Use me. YOUR will be done. Whatever it takes. I’m yours.”
Because that, my friends, is a powerful place to be.
Are you currently dealing with any significant trials right now or have you in the past? What gets you through them?