I had someone come into my office once and say, “It’s not fair – God seems not to ever send even an ounce of compassion my way. My life is falling apart, and He doesn’t even seem to care. Why? How can I trust a God that doesn’t ever seem to come through?”
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe there’s a specific situation in your life right now that feels very unfair.
We can easily conjure up the thought, “If God loves me, why doesn’t He stop sending hurt my way?”
It’s one of the toughest questions that a counselor must answer because the answer often isn’t satisfying in the moment. However, one of the advantages of being a counselor is that we often get to see how life’s choices and attitudes play out over the long haul.
Most people in crisis focus on the short-term pain, not the long-term gain. While helping with pain is part of what we do, God seems to place more emphasis on the long-term gain.
There are three ways that God shows us grace as we experience trials. No matter what we’re facing, God desires to take our trials and use them for our good and His glory.
Choosing to respond well to trials will break, make, and take us to the place that God wants us to be.
1. My trials break me – by challenging my self-sufficiency.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV)
Do you see the pattern in this passage that weakness is better? God doesn’t need you to be self-sufficient, He wants you to be dependent on Him.
When life is comfortable, we tend to rely on ourselves to get what we need. We can live life as if we don’t need others or even God. This pride and self-sufficiency is disastrous to our walks with God. It takes us further from God’s purposes and results in the opposition of God.
Sometimes God uses the trials of life to remind us that we need Him, and we shouldn’t try to live far from Him. Even in times of seeming silence, God uses loneliness and sadness to grow our desire for Him as everything in else in life fails to satisfy.
When you are facing trials, it can feel like you are heading towards a breaking point. However, we are often missing the point because that’s not the end. God uses trials to break us and create desperation for Him so that we rely on Him and not ourselves.
2. My trials make me – by helping me grow in maturity and endurance.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
God doesn’t just break us for no reason; our breaking allows a rebirth into new patterns. When God saved us, He began the process of helping us restore the purpose for God’s creation. He receives glory when we mature, grow, and reflect His heart in this fallen world.
When we respond well to accusations, mistreatment, doubts, physical difficulties, and other trials, God changes us for the better. There is a point to the pain: God is helping us grow stronger and wiser.
It takes faith to believe that God can do something good through our trials, but our faith is proved in how we respond. A diet doesn’t bring about changes quickly, nor does a single gym session bring about strength. However, consistent and wise choices do reap a harvest.
For those that cooperate with God by responding wisely to trials, you will grow stronger. God promises that to us, even though in the short term the results may not be obvious yet.
3. My trials take me – to God’s better path for my life.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 (ESV)
If you were to know the backgrounds of many of the counselors at Biblical Counseling Center, you might be surprised. Virtually all of us have experienced either deep pain personally or in others close to us.
God uses divorce, abuse, addiction, insecurity, anxiety, and all sorts of trials to shape the direction of our life. Our most effective counselors can look you in the eye with confidence that God does use trials for good because we have seen it in our own lives and the lives of those we are privileged to help.
While you may not see yet what God is preparing you for, will you trust that God does use your trials to set your life in a new direction? No one wants to lose our marriage, child, job, or physical health, but oftentimes these are the exact trials that God uses to shape our future. God doesn’t waste our pain.
Trials are a gift if we are willing to receive them. Apart from God, that seems absurd! However, if we respond well to trials, they can break us, make us, and takes us to where He wants us to be.
Trust God and keep responding well.