Last week, I posted the account of my friend Ve's trials. Scroll down a few inches if you want to read the full story. When she asked God why she was having such a hard time with her back, He gave her four reasons for her trials that can apply to all of us.
1. Trials and tests bring us back to God when we stray.
2. They prepare us for greater trials in the future by teaching us to trust Him.
3. They show others that trusting in Him and having His peace in our hearts does not depend on our circumstances.
4. God gives us trials and tests to prove His faithfulness to us.
God had not finished teaching me lessons on trials and testing, though. My blogger friend, Lynn Mosher, posted a piece on her blog Heading Home about building faith. She made the point that tests and trials cause our faith to grow.
Lynn said, "When a heart receives eternal salvation by accepting the sacrifice of Christ's blood, righteousness is imparted into each heart, along with the seedling of faith. In order for that seedling to blossom and grow, it needs watering and, well, er, fertilizer (emphasis added).
"What does the Bible say about the process through which faith grows?
"James said, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)" (You can read Lynn's complete post here.)
From Lynn's blog, I see another reason for trials and tests.
5. Trials and tests cause our faith to grow, developing endurance as it does.
I had to think about the difference between trust – of which Ve spoke – and faith – Lynn's point. I think there is a clear distinction between the two. Trust is confidence based on experience. People learn to trust me when I keep my promises and meet their expectations. Faith, on the other hand, lacks proof and works from belief. From previous experience, I trust that elevators will take me safely to the floor I want, but each time I get on an elevator I use faith because I believe that this elevator will work safely this time.
My final lesson for the week, I learned from my Mother. In her daily devotions, she read Luke 13: 6-9 (NLT) which says, "Then Jesus told this story: "A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, 'I've waited three years, and there hasn't been a single fig! Cut it down. It's just taking up space in the garden.'
"The gardener answered, 'Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer (emphasis added). If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.'""
In another place, (John 15:16 NLT) Jesus said, "You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…" Therefore, if your life is not producing any "lasting fruit," you might prepare yourself for some extra fertilizer – in the form of more trials and tests!
Mother's insight provided another reason why God may put trials and tests in my life.
6. They provide what is missing in our lives to make us fruitful.
God is the ultimate multitasker. He usually does more than one thing with the same set of circumstances. Look at your own set of trials and tests to see which purpose(s) God may be addressing. As you do, remember the promise He gave to encourage us not to give up (Isaiah 43: 1b -2 NIV): "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
God will give you strength for today.