“God does not want our faith kept in mothballs, so He sometimes allows trials and testing to come into our lives; the unexpected hardships and heartbreaks that rock us in places we never thought we'd face as a child of God. And it's in those defining moments that we knock off the cobwebs of our everyday faith and face life with a new and improved one that's empowered by God Himself.”
― Ron Lambros
It’s pretty obvious that every single person on this earth will experience trials. Neither rich nor poor, black nor white, male nor female can escape the probability of being tested in their faith. It will happen. And yet the outcome will differ drastically.
Some will crumple under the pressure, giving up all hope, while others will find a way to thrive. Every circumstance is different, but truth of the matter is we all have control of how we perceive and react to our situation.
We can either wallow in despair of our suffering or we can look for the hope that exists, because blessings can be found in the midst of trials.
Often times, we thank God for our supportive spouse, or the miracle of a child, we thank Him for our financial stability or our warm home. We thank Him for all of the wonderful blessings that have led to comfortable lives, but we rarely think about the blessings that came from the difficulties we have endured.
If I asked you what the top things you were grateful for, I would guess for most, painful experiences would not make the list. You would probably say your good health, the birth of a child or grandchild, maybe even a windfall of money or a promotion. Now If I asked you how those things brought you closer to God, how would you respond?
If you were anything like me, you would probably hesitate for a moment.
In those moments, there isn’t a need to rely on God’s strength to get you through the day when your own strength seems to be enough. Is this right? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Look back to your most recent trial... Now consider those blessings that have grown your faith in God; the blessings that have helped you rely on our heavenly father. Where do those blessings reside?
Growth Through Miscarriage and Pregnancy
When our first daughter was born, I saw how incredible and inexplicable our God truly was. 11 months before her birth, my husband and I experienced the loss of a miscarriage. There was no scientific or spiritual explanation as to what happened, just that it happened. So when Natalie entered this world, I both rejoiced for her birth and the loss of our unborn child. We were in a season trying to control what happened in our lives, and God used that pregnancy and miscarriage to remind us how in control He was and is. (Note – I did not say God caused the miscarriage).
God loved me so much, He used the pain of miscarriage to grow me and sharpen me and bring me closer to Him.
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul reminds the Roman Church to rejoice in their sufferings! He exclaims that these sufferings aka trials/tribulations produce endurance which in turn shapes our character, ultimately giving us hope that does not put us to shame, but instead makes us more like Christ.
“Not only that, but 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, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the holy spirit who has been given to us.”
This verse has been thee verse I have clung to since accepting Christ as my savior. It has brought me peace in a storm. It has highlighted the truth that all the pain, the tears, and the suffering would be used for something far greater.
The apostle Paul does not say that the trials will be comfortable or pleasant. If anything, I’m sure he would be the first person to tell you that the trials he endured were intolerable, and yet, he rejoiced.
Paul gives us a short example in 2 Corinthians 11:22-27of the suffering he endured during his time in ministry. He had been in prison, been flogged and exposed to death again and again, been lashed by the Jews 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, pelted with stones, and shipwrecked 3 times. He was always on the move yet never safe from nature, or bandits, from Jews or Gentiles, from the city or the country and he knew what it was like to be hungry, thirsty, cold and naked.
Even in the midst of a storm (in prison), Paul wrote a letter to the Church of Philippi encouraging them in their faith. How many of us would ever have the strength to encourage anyone when we are in the middle of a storm? I barely have enough energy to encourage myself let alone an entire church!
In Philippians 4:4, he encouraged them to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Paul understood what it meant to suffer, and yet he held on to his belief and realized that his suffering could be used as a testimony for God's Glory.
See, this isn’t about being happy for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced; this is about understanding how God is taking the opportunity to grow you, mold you, and use you to further his Kingdom.
Your pain is not in vain.
Paul was also the apostle who was given a thorn in the flesh to remind him of his dependency on the Lord. He pleaded with the lord to remove the thorn and yet it remained (2 Corinthians 12:8). The Lord responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When you look back, do you see how God was working through you? Did you find the hidden blessing in the thick of the mess?
As I look back over our time in England, I am reminded time and again how often God showed up for me in the middle of a painful season. Not even a month after moving overseas, the trials began with the miscarriage I spoke of earlier. This was the first time my husband and I had to mourn for a loss we shared together. As we navigated this pain, David got into a car accident further adding to the stressors of life. In the midst of that dark season, we grew closer as husband and wife. David learned to support me while managing his grief, and I learned how to be a safe place for my husband’s vulnerability.
Over the last two years, we have navigated many TDY’s (short trips), two deployments, the passing of a grandfather whose funeral we could not attend, missed celebrations with the family, and countless missed milestones with our daughter. All of these events creating a different kind of pain that felt unbearable at the moment. Yet, our testimony has been used to encourage those who follow in our footsteps the same way our mentors continue to inspire us. God has shown up at every turn, to carry us through, even when we don’t understand the why behind the trial.
Ultimately, it’s not about why we lost our baby, or why we have endured separation after separation, but how God has used those opportunities to sanctify us.