Wednesday, February 6, 2013

10 Purposes for Life's Trials

I have written a lot about trials lately. Why is that?

Well, because, when I am going through something, it tends to take up my focus and consume my thoughts.

The Barefoot Hippies had a rough enough 2012. It was a stretching and growing year. Like the ocean, life ebbs and flows, and life was doing its thing.

And, I do ask "why?" All the time. And I don't think that is a bad thing. Though I could just be a reprobate Christian.

Most Christians are fairly familiar with James 1:5- if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5 is talking about asking God for wisdom. But, what we tend to forget is that verse 5 follows verses 2-4, about trials. Trials that are working patience in our lives, making us perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

So, if you don't understand why you are experiencing some hardship, God is urging you to ask Him. Ask Him why.

Everything God allows into our lives-good and bad-has a purpose. God has a high purpose for believers-that of making us like Jesus Christ.

God makes our lives harder than they have to be-in order to make each of us like Christ.

That is the underlying reason for each trial. But there are many other undergirding purposes for trials.

Strengthens us for the future- like athletic training. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger-and all that. It's true for life as well as athletics.

Safety- what I am facing is better than what I could have faced. How many times have we been frustrated because someone else made us late, and then we see an accident or something else we might have been involved in if we had been on time?

Cleanse from self righteousness-Job was an amazing man. God says he was perfect, upright, feared God and eschewed evil. There was no one else on earth like him. Problem was, he knew that too. And when trials came, he rested on his own righteousness. In Job 42: 5, 6 he says, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye sees Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in sackcloth and ashes." Isaiah came to the same conclusion when he saw God's holiness. He was a sinner.

Build perseverance and character- Trials and sufferings are the vehicle God uses to teach us character. Hope, gentleness.

Teaches us to look to the Lord for our needs- Without hard times, we are quite able to take care of ourselves, thank you very much. Trials bring us to the end of ourselves and our resources. They cast us upon God's grace and provision.

Teaches us how to comfort others- Trials give us experience and empathy, that allows us to truly say to someone, "I know how you feel." I know how it feels to lose a sister in law suddenly. I know that shortness of breath, knife in the gut, pain. I can empathize with others who are there.

Prevent us from becoming proud- Paul. This is similar to Job, but the other end. Trials keep us relying on God's grace. His grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Shows us what Jesus' love cost Him. The cost of sacrifice.

Proves our faith is genuine. Are we just blowing smoke rings? Or are we on a life altering journey?

Refines us. Like glass in the glory bowl. Kept in the fire. Kept near the fire. Shaped to God's glory.

Have you ever asked God why He is bringing you through a certain hard thing? What did He tell you?