Trials and Troubles

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Job 2:10b says, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”  That’s a good question.  But one I hesitate to answer.  Not because I don’t know the answer but because of the hard truth that this verse conveys.  The good is obviously preferred.  But the trouble?  That’s what changes, refines, and pushes us to God according to 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” God designed distress and hardships to strengthen the sincerity of our faith just as fire refines gold so that we can glorify Him fully.

John Piper puts it this way: “When gold is melted in the fire the impurities float to the top and can be removed. When the refining fire is over, the gold is even more valuable. So it is with your faith in God. You have faith. You trust his promises. But there are impurities in it. There are elements of murmuring and pessimism (I speak from painful experience). And there are tendencies to trust money and position and popularity alongside God—dirt mingled with the gold of faith. These impurities in our faith hinder our fullest experience of the goodness and greatness of God. So God designs to refine our faith with the fires of trial and distress. His aim is that our faith be more pure and more genuine. That is, that it be more utterly dependent on him and not on things and other persons for our joy.”

Our Heavenly Father, just as our earthly parents, does what He does for our best good, even when we fall flat on our face. It’s not that God forgot about us and for a moment let go of our hand. It’s more like what happens when a child is learning how to walk. If the parents never let go of the tiny chubby hands, never let the tot fall and get back up, the child will never learn how to walk. Through our tumblings, we grow stronger, we often learn more during the hard times.

So often, when we go through hardship, we feel like God has left us. We forget that “. . .we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). We seem to think that we are entitled to the good times but that we don’t deserve the bad times. Job reminds us not to just hold onto God in the good times but to also hold onto Him in the tough times of life when he says: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

You may be thinking that it’s too hard, that you shouldn’t be expected to find joy in sorrow, that Job cannot possibly understand this trial in your life. But what we seem to momentarily overlook is that Job 1:21 quotes the words of Job immediately following the death of all ten of his children and the complete annihilation of his livelihood. He had so much and one moment later had nothing. And in Job 2:10 (quoted above), while still mourning the death of his children and the ruin of his herd, Job is inflicted with painful sores; yet he still keeps his eyes on God. We need to have the faith of Job. We need to realize that we cannot ultimately understand the entirety of God’s plan.

In John 11, we read the story of a man named Lazarus. Lazarus was sick and his sisters sent a message to Jesus. Jesus, however, knew that through Lazarus’ death God would be even further glorified. Neither Lazarus’ sisters nor the disciples understood why Jesus waited two days before he went to Lazarus; they didn’t understand that it was God’s Will for Lazarus to die. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, felt that if Jesus had come sooner, their brother might have been healed. They forgot that they were speaking to the One who in everything knows what is best. They didn’t understand His ways because they couldn’t see the end result, what God was planning, or what He had in store.

John 11:38-44 finishes the story for us: “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ’by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”

I’m sure Mary and Martha never would’ve guessed what Jesus had in mind. If Jesus had come when they sent a message to Him, if He had healed Lazarus while he was sick, God would not have received the glory that resulted from Lazarus’ resurrection.

We should not feel that it is necessary to completely comprehend why we are currently in this season of life. Instead, we should continue forward with the realization that God has put us in exactly the place where we can give Him the most glory. Now, it is our choice: will we glorify Him by the way we live—no matter what is going on in our life? He may be using a hard time to grow and change us or to be more fully glorified.

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