Trials Grow Us/Mature Us
According to the book of James, tough times that come our way should actually cause us to be joyful! Now that is a hard pill to swallow, especially in the midst of a hard time in life. But this is what God's Word tells us. Trials are to be a source of joy for us.
Don't misunderstand what the Bible is saying here. We don't have to actually enjoy the sorrow, pain, or hardships themselves. Instead, its the end result that should give us joy. As Christians, we need to trust that our Heavenly Father is going to use the tough times to teach us lessons of character that will make us mature believers. For example, when you get fired, you don't have to leap for joy every time you attempt to pay the bills and have low funds. But, you should shift your perspective from your problem to God's plan, ask Him how He is trying to grow you, and take joy in the fact that this present pain will not be wasted but will be used by God to grow you.
No Pain No Gain
This isn't anything new. We tell ourselves this kind of thing all the time. We go for a run and push past the pain, not because we love it when our legs and lungs burn, but because we desire the end result of burned calories and cardiovascular endurance. We study for hours even with a headache, not because we love headaches, but because we want a good grade and want to learn. We say things like, "Nothing worth doing is easy."
Just like academic learning and physical fitness are only gained through work and often pain, inner qualities of character are often only gained through trials. How else can someone really truly learn the virtue of patience aside from dealing with people and situations that try their patience? How can we learn forgiveness without being wronged? How can we learn humility without occasionally being put in our place and humiliated? The best times of growth in a Christian's life are often times of pain and difficulty.
Michaela's Tummy Time
I love my daughter. She is so incredibly cute and precious! It makes me so sad to see her crying. When those big blue eyes cry those crocodile tears, it hurts my heart a little. The doctors tell us that infants need to lie on their stomach for several minutes a day in order to build up their muscles in their neck, back, and arms as well as to prevent future problems with their skull and spine. So Christy and I give Michaela time on her tummy several times a day.
At first, she really hated it. She couldn't stand it and would go from happy in our arms to crying on her tummy mat in 0.3 seconds flat. She would stare at us while crying as if she was thinking, "Why are you doing this cruel thing to me!?" Watching her like that was strange. I don't like seeing my little girl like that. It hurts! Part of me wanted to yell at those doctors and tell them they were wrong. But another part of me restrained myself and let her spend short amounts of time like that so that she could get used to being on her tummy so that we could eventually get her used to several minutes of that a day. That part of me wanted to make sure she was growing and healthy. I let her cry a little then so that she would be healthy and strong in the future. Michaela doesn't understand all of that, but she doesn't have to. Her Daddy is there to make sure she gets what she needs and to pick her up and calm her down afterward.
Our Heavenly Father
If you are a Christian, you have been adopted by God and He is an amazing Heavenly Father. He loves you dearly! I believe it makes Him sad to see us struggle through trials. At the same time, our Father has a plan for us to grow through those trials. Often, we won't understand why God is allowing painful things in our lives, but we should trust our Heavenly Daddy to grow us, mature us, and help us get through it.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Because some of the best lessons of character can only be learned through difficulty and pain. But because He is a good Father, we should trust Him and press through with joy that comes from keeping our eyes on the future gain despite the present pain.
- What's the most recent trial you've gone through in life?
- How did it feel when it was happening?
- Looking back now, how do you think God was trying to grow you?
- What things are going on in your life right now that you want to complain about?
- How might God be using those things to grow you and mature you? Does that help change your perspective and attitude on the situation?
- What can you do to cooperate with the lesson God is trying to teach you?
- What things can you do to ruin the lesson God is trying to teach you?