So anyways, I recently mentioned Philippians chapter 1, where it talks about two gifts we’re granted: ‘belief’ in God, and the promise we’ll ‘suffer for His sake’.
I’ve always been really interested in that verse. Geoff the Great and I were talking the other night and we came to some interesting conclusions. Tell me if this rings true for any of you, as well…
As we looked back over our 15 years of marriage, one thing stood out. Trials. Lots and lots of trials. Trials of all sizes and duration. Some were self inflicted (choices we made with finances, prideful (usually mine) reactions in difficulty that led to strife etc), others were swept in by no fault of our own (a flooded home, our home base business entirely stolen, major injuries with our children, a work schedule for Geoff that seemed impossible to hold up under)
We do not have rich parents who have bailed us out of difficulties. We have not been pampered. We’ve not had a life free of difficulty. We’ve had periods of rest, but for the most part our life has been one challenge after the next. Most of you can probably relate. And this does not make us more spiritual (obviously) it just is what our life has been comprised of.
And looking over the last 15 years, I really do understand why ‘suffering’ is considered a gift. Romans chapter 5 sums it up real well.
What have trials done? Lots. We know we’re losers. We see our weakness. We realize our overwhelming need for a Saviour. We understand that human effort or determination can only get us so far. Trials cause us to long for our ‘real home’. Trials keep up from getting too cozy in this alien nation. Trials cause us to call out for His help. Incredibly, He is so kind that He even uses our dumb self inflicted trials to work towards our good when we repent and turn toward Him.
Trials also reveal the glory and love of God. We’ve seen (time and time and time again) God’s people working together in great love to support their brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ve seen and felt the love of God – here on Earth – thru other believers. If we had no needs, we would have not been able to experience that. We’ve caught a glimpse of how heaven will work.
And I’m glad, VERY glad, that our children have not had a life of ease. I’m thankful for the scars on my oldest son’s back and arms from when he was horribly burned as a baby. What an awful thing to say? No – I’ve seen first hand how those scars have helped to keep my very handsome and confident son humble. Those scars are a reminder of his weakness, and a token that ever confirms that ‘flesh’ is temporary and fleeting and subject to abrupt changes. We cannot put our faith in our flesh/looks/strength etc. Would I ever wish for such a thing to happen? Of course not! But after the fact I am able to thank God for the character it’s built in my precious son.
I’m thankful for my second son’s severe lisp. He was cursed with tremendous beauty. He is such a handsome boy. Yet he has something that has kept him from being vain. Does it twist my heart when he’s cruelly teased by others? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, yes. He will eventually grow out of his lisp, but I hope his sweet spirit of humility stays around for the rest of his existence.
My children have gone without on many occasions. I am glad they have seen at an early age that life was not meant to be easy. They are not expectant, they do not demand imagined ‘rights’, and they are so very thankful for what they receive. They have watched Geoff and I struggle and cry out to God, and they have also pleaded alongside of us that our immediate needs would be met. And they have seen first-hand how our good and gracious Lord answers our prayers and provides for us (and others). I would never wish this away.
Yes. Trials and tribulations ARE a gift. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see that while in the midst of them – but try and remember. Ask God to strengthen your faith while you wait patiently.
Every Christian I have ever met has always always always said the same thing. Those who have suffered have always been thankful for their trials after the fact. They look back and see the good it’s done. Those were the times they were closest to God. Those were the times they saw Him working first hand – and it strengthened their faith and chipped away at their pride.
I know that’s true in my own life. Our family life has been marked with a series of trials and tribulation. It is also marked with an intense love for one another and a bond of strength, which I hope to never take for granted. We have a lot of areas to work on, and we fall short in many many ways, but I am thankful for the help He’s given us by way of suffering.
So yes. I’m thankful for the trials. All of them. Even the really heinous ones. Those trials were a gift from a good God who loves me and my family. And I’m so thankful for the time of rest we’ve enjoyed this past year.
My family has a ‘prayer board’ in our dining room. I got the idea from my dear friend. How can my family pray for you? Please feel free to let me know. Leave it here if you’d like, so that others may be praying, too, or email me privately. Take out the space, Jeneferig @ gmail. com
Proverbs 15:17 – Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred