This article by Pastor Michael Wallenmeyer appeared first here on his blog and is used with permission. Pastor Wallenmeyer’s church recently went through the BCC Launch program to train members of his congregation in biblical counseling.
What if instead of trying to quickly getting through the trial that may be experiencing we stopped and considered that God is trying to do something in our lives? What if instead of running or escaping the pain we stopped and listened to what God was trying to communicate to us?
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C.S. Lewis
Recently God has been challenging me through his Word to consider how he is trying to speak to me, grow me, and reveal his love to me through the trials of life. So can I share with you a few of my thoughts regarding the role of trials in our lives?
- We forget that God wants to use our trials to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. I would NOT choose suffering or trials as the instrument whereby I become more like Christ. Instead, I would choose reading the Bible while drinking coffee. I try to shield myself from pain in every conceivable way. Usually it is to my spiritual detriment. Yet if I am going to be honest with what I read in Scripture I must conclude that God uses my pain for redemptive purposes. For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he (heavenly Father) disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. -Hebrews 12:10
- We think our joy and happiness depends on our circumstances getting better. Are we merely waiting for the hard times to pass before we think we can experience joy again? The story of the apostle Paul teaches us that our contentment and joy does not need to be rooted in how well life is turning out for us. “I rejoiced greatly that you have revived your concern for me and that you were concerned, but you had no opportunity. Not that I speak of being in need. For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:10-13
- We miss out on how we can be a blessing to others because we become focused in like a laser on our circumstances. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to grieve. There is a time to slow down and allow God to minister to us. But if we always wait for life to go the way that we want before we love and serve others we will find that life has passed us by and we have missed far too many ministry opportunities. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” -2 Corinthians 1:3–5
- We lose sight of the truth that trials are one of the ways that God is revealing his love and affection for us. This is the one point that probably stands out to me most at this time in my life. I am tempted to give into discouragement when I am dealing with my spiritual and emotional battles. They seem to be never-ending. But the writer of Hebrews tells us something shocking, God is revealing his love for us when he causes us to walk through a difficult season. He is pruning us. He is molding us. Instead of the trial being a sign of God’s indifference or harshness it is an indication that he loves us enough to seek our growth and transformation. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” -Hebrews 12:5-6
- We isolate ourselves from others in the church. Too often, I believe, we end up making life harder because we disengage and distance ourselves from others when we are struggling. Trust me, I get why people do this! It feels so right to draw back and seek a safe place to lick our wounds. The problem is that God has perfectly designed the body of Jesus Christ (the church) to walk with us and help carry our burdens. As Christians we were never meant to try to get through life on our own. Whether we recognize it or not we desperately need the relationships that are found in the church. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” -1 Corinthians 12:21