"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Psalms 119:18 (KJV)
No one likes troubles, trials and tribulations, but we all will or have had them. Since all will encounter them in our life, it only makes sense to view them in the proper light.
These “bad” occurrences many times are sent by God to make us into what He desires us to be. They will teach us lessons in life’s school that will never leave us the same. It can be for this reason God preserved the words in James 1:2-4:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; [trials] Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
We are to take these hard times as a “joyful time”. How can anything as miserable as some have experienced, be joyful? Usually the lesson is learned and thankfulness is appreciated after the fire is passed through – when we’re out on the other side of calamity. It is then we can have “joy”.
After one goes through so many “temptations”, and remembers how they benefited from those experiences, one can easily develop the right attitude the next time unpleasantness comes into view. “Ah, I don’t like the class, but the lesson I will learn will be worth it.” That is joy.
The Bible gives us many different reasons why hard times come into our life. Those amidst trials learn many lessons. Some did not learn their lesson when taking the “course”. Later on they faced harder training further down life’s path, because they never learned it the first time.
Sometimes these tempestuous times are meant to strengthen us. We can be made stronger when we are awed at His deliverance from the impossible. When we get to that point, we can look back and say, “Only God could have gotten me through that”.
Deut. 10:21 “He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.”
Other times our turbulent trials build our faith after we see what God has done. After passing through enough testings, and remembering how we were delivered in the past, we have faith that He will guide us through the next time.
I Samuel 12: 24: “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.”
Part of what happens when our faith is strengthened is that we are taught. We learn more about Him, what He can do, what He will not do, and His other character traits when we see God work in our lives.
The lessons are many that can be taught from life’s trials. Israel, when they were lead through the wilderness, learned to fear and obey God. Jonah’s experience also taught him to obey – the first time. Paul’s blinding experience on the road to Damascus taught him there is only one way to please God and it was His way, not the traditions or religions of man. After Jesus healed the blind man from a lifetime of darkness, he learned of His power. All these events changed the lives of the ones going through what they originally thought were unwanted times. What would they have been like, if they didn’t go through them?
Reading in the Scriptures one can easily see how the hard times were use to teach God’s people how He could protect them. God has used hornets, earthquakes, darkness, disease, fear, water, just to name a few, to guard His own. What an unforgettable lesson must have been learned, when they got to see the mighty works of their protective Father.
Hard times can also direct us. The trials we go through many times change the direction we are going and put us on the course He desires – much like the detour that no one likes. If our route were not changed, we would end up in the construction workers’ freshly dug trench, possibly damaging our vehicle and us. The many extra miles were worth the aggravation we could have faced in the body shop or even in the hospital. When we look back on what could have happened, we our joyful about what did not happen and thankful for His direction.
Certainly, tough times can change us. Jonah’s attitude was surely changed after his stay in the whale’s belly. Saul had a new perspective of persecuted Christians after he was one. Joseph was certainly appreciative of all the hardship he went through, when he saw how it prepared him for his future. We can loose all our self-righteousness and self-worth in a short hurry, when we face trials and realize that in those times only God can make the difference.
Not all trials are punishment of God, but some are. Our miseries can be an act of God to correct us when we do wrong. A good punishment will change wrong behavior – and quickly. When God’s people were doing wrong God sent enemies, bondages, plagues, and hosts of other deterrents to change their mind-set. Parents sometimes have to punish their child for wrong behavior; our heavenly Father sometimes needs to do this, too.
Not too many people get excited when terrible things happen to them but as you will learn, if you have not already, there is much to be learned from the “bad times”. Not one spiritual and close-to-God Christian got that way without going through a lot of heartaches. Sometimes the most spiritual have gone through the most. There is a connection. Hard times can have a positive effect on us, if we learn our lesson properly.
This article was featured in The Bible View #80.