Don’t waste your trial: Learning lessons from your hard place

Don’t waste your trial: Learning lessons from your hard place November 18, 2019

Eventually, it comes to everyone. You can’t really plan for it, because it sneaks up in the middle of the night. The trial raids your happiest moments in life. It destroys the ending to the perfect story.

If you’re human, you will have some sort of trial come your way. It’s a guarantee. You may lose a job, have a spouse walk away from you, or contract a life-threatening disease. There are smaller trials – like an unreasonable boss, a rebellious child, or a financial loss – that are no less trying.

The formula that most people use for the unsuspecting trial is simply to buckle in and hope they don’t fall out. When mine came, it surprised me. I had no idea. I thought about just gritting my teeth and enduring. But what if the trial isn’t an 8-second bull ride? What if it lasts months? Years? A lifetime?

Because of the time uncertainty, just holding on until it’s over doesn’t make sense.  If all we hope to gain is mere survival – to endure to the end – we will have wasted the trial, we will have missed out on God’s blessing.

We’re really not supposed to wait for the wild ride to end. We are meant to embrace our trial and actually benefit from it.

Photo by Jonatan Pie, with permission via CCLI Unslash
Photo by Jonathan Pie, with permission via CCLI Unslash

You will waste your trial is you believe it is punishment

“Trying to test Jesus, some men brought Jesus a crippled boy. “Whose sin was it that caused this? His parents or his?” Jesus said “Neither, but he is like to this so God can be glorified.”

We all know this verse, yet when we are afflicted; we still ask “What did I do to bring this on?”

Some are four-pack-a day smokers and the lung removal is no surprise. Or the man who gets behind the wheel three kites to the wind shouldn’t be surprised to wake up on a thin mattress in a concrete cell.

But for many of us, it seems that “life” just seems to grab us, like a sudden wave on the beach pulling blankets and sunglasses and cell phones out with the tide.

It’s not a punishment, but a blessing if your faith becomes real, if you love becomes purposeful, if your life finds traction.

You waste your trial if you fail to rejoice

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”Romans 5:3 

Trials can awaken the senses and spark the cold heart.

We gain none of those benefits if we are sullen or withdrawn. We miss out on character and hope and love if we’re out to blame someone, something. There is nothing more earth-shattering than a shout of joy in the midst of calamity.

You will waste your trial if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God. 

Some count their chariots and some count their horses , but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

“The world gets comfort from their odds. Not us,” writes John Piper in the middle of a cancer fight.

Cancer survival rates are amazing today. But if you put your hope in the 7 in 10 ten chance of survival, you’ll miss out on what the real mission to your heart. There are other odds – and we are always betting on doctors, or spouses changing their minds, or kids coming back home.

Here some new odds. You will a 100 percent chance of suffering at some point in your life. But rest-assured, that you also can have 100 percent odds of receiving Christ’s comfort, meeting you in your deepest distress, and restoring your simple joy.

You will waste your trial is you spend too much time analyzing the situation

It’s not wrong to research career opportunities if you are unemployed. It’s not wrong to read about that blood disease. It’s not wrong to read about the walk-away spouse, to visit with people and get their opinions. But it is wrong to spend too much time in head knowledge, and not enough time in heart repair.

Your trial is meant to awaken you to the reality of God.  This is your chance — finally — to clear your head and figure out Jesus and get to know him fully

You will waste your trial if you endure it alone.

We are mortified that others will discover our scars, our open wounds. We usually hide them — and try to make a go of it alone. Your need gives others an opportunity to respond. How many times have you heard about someone who has been sick, or who lost a loved one, or who has a relationship on the rocks, and it’s been weeks or months since it’s happened. You feel crushed. You could have helped.

In your trial, you will need your brothers and sisters to walk with you, to live out their faith beside you, to love you. And one day, you can do same to them.

 You will waste your trial if you fail to use it as a pointer to God’s truth

“They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness to truth.” (Luke 21:12 -13).

So it is with cancer or job loss or emotional loss. There is a golden opportunity to show there are things more important than life on this earth. Don’t let them slip by.

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

I owe much to the original thoughts of John Piper and Marvin Olasky about this subject.

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