If you have lived for any amount of time, you’ve had difficult things come into your life.
Maybe it was an external situation or person.
Maybe it was an internal hardship or struggle.
But we’ve all faced difficulties that we’d simply rather avoid.
And our God is in the business of turning these difficulties into launchpads for good things to come.
I’ve been reflecting on how God uses our trials for good things in His plan, especially the last couple years as my wife and I have felt like we’re in a massive transition and waiting period in our life (you can read more about at this link).
And, although our God has plans and reasons beyond all that we can comprehend, I think there are two things that God consistently brings out of our trials that are worth giving special attention.
I hope these are encouraging to you and that they even help you see what God might be doing as you transition through difficult seasons in your life.
Please note that I’m not saying God necessarily brings any trials into our lives, but that, regardless of why we experience a difficulty in our life, that God is able to use it for our good and His glory.
1. To Make Us More Like Him
One of the key benefits to experiencing trials in our life is how they can mold us more into the image of Jesus.
Although I believe that every good change in our hearts and lives are from the Holy Spirit’s work within us, I believe that going through trials can reveal to us areas that God knows we already lack and can cause us to surrender those areas to Him so that His Spirit may do that work within us.
I write that because I don’t believe that trials are simply tools to have us try harder and do better (as some believe), but that God can use our trials to cause us to draw nearer to Him and to be transformed by Him.
As the saying goes:
God whispers in our joys,
Speaks to us in our daily lives,
And shouts to us in our pain.
Our trials and pains often bring us back to the God Who we tend to drift away from,
and can even reveal specific areas for Him to work in us.
Case in point: a couple years ago, my wife and I went through the most difficult year of our life. And a few months after the main difficulty was over, I was asked by a friend what we learned and how we grew from the experience.
I didn’t have an answer at the time.
But about 6 months later, it dawned on me.
I ask for forgiveness quicker than I use to.
I’m more sympathetic with the unknown struggles of others than I was two years ago.
I generally trust God more, especially when I have to trust that He’s working in spite of what others are doing.
And these things were direct results of that difficult year.
I have no idea all that God accomplished through that time,
But I can definitely see that He used it to mold me to be more like Him.
Here are two verses for you to reflect on as you consider some ways that God has used your trials to draw Him near to Himself and to make you more like Him.
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”Psalm 119:71
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”James 1:2
2. To Position Us For Our Next Steps/Calling
Sometimes, one of the greatest things God can bring out of our trials isn’t even what He does in us, but where the trial can bring us.
I think the simplest examples would be Joseph, Esther and Paul.
None of these characters seemed to experience a lot of personal growth from some of their trials, but they were able to be used by God in incredible ways because of the position that their trial brought them.
Joseph: He was sold into slavery, was given high authority, only to loose it all again by being falsely accused and thrown into jail… only to be taken out of jail years later to become second in command in Egypt and save the surrounding nations from a famine.
You can read Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50. It is summed up well in these verses:
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.“Genesis 50:19-20
Esther: As a young Jewish girl, she was forced to become the wife of a gentile king and live a pretty secluded and lonely life. But through her, God was able to save all of Israel from complete genocide and extinction.
You can read her story in the entire book of Esther. It is summed up well in these verses:
[Mordecai passing on a message to Esther to encourage her to use the status God has given her to save Israel from genocide] “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?“Esther 4:14
Paul: As the writer of most of the New Testament and arguably the most prominent person in the early church, Paul accomplished a lot. What is most amazing is how much he accomplished while in prison. Being in prison allowed for a few of the books to be written that may not have otherwise (such as Philippians) and also gave him an audience with some rulers that he would not have had otherwise. Paul is clearly an example of someone who does not wait for a difficulty to end, but finds what new leverage he has in the mist of each trial.
You can read about much of Paul’s early adventures in the book of Acts and also through the many books he wrote in the New Testament. I think his attitude to leverage any opportunity a trial provided him is best described in this verse:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me [being in prison] has really served to advance the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”Philippians 1:12
All of these characters experienced an incredible opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible without the pain they experienced first.
I wanted to use three examples of people who’s stories emphasize how God used their trial to position them rather than grow them, but our God tends to work in multiple ways at the same time.
In addition to considering how God has made you more like Him through trials you’ve experienced, consider where He has brought you through these trials as well.
Waiting On God Through Trials
Obviously, God has a much bigger and more complete picture than we do, and so there is so much more He can be working in and through our difficulties, so I encourage you to be patient.
To wait on God,
To keep your eyes on Him,
And allow Him to bring about the good He has in store.
As one of my favorite verses reminds us, God’s plan is different than ours AND His plan is better:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8–9
If you’re looking for more encouragement through a trial you’re going through, here are two other posts I’ve written on that subject: