I’m in the middle of a trial. Not a jury and judge trial, but the kind you’re supposed to “count it all joy” and be thankful for. Being thankful for hardship seems a little on the crazy side and not at all honest. Don’t get me wrong. There have been moments when hope and even thankfulness have bubbled to the surface over the last few weeks, but so far, those moments have been short-lived and dashed to a thousand tiny pieces by more bad news.
Instead of finding answers or relief, I’m reminded that many trials don’t end with wine or healing or another day to try. Some struggles end in defeat–a job lost, a friendship gone, our invincibility diminished. And we’re left with questions. Lots of questions, most of which begin with the word “why.”
Why is this happening?
Why did you say no?
Why can’t this one thing just work out?
Oh, and also how much longer? And what should I do?
Lots of questions.
During this unasked for trial, I’ve discovered a few things, and I thought I would share them with you. These aren’t groundbreaking or anything new. You’ve probably heard them before, but they’ve helped me and maybe they can help you too.
1. The number one thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid of the truth. As hard as it can be to hear it, the truth is always good, even when it brings bad news. We can’t deal with problems until we know what they are. Making decisions, moving forward, and staying grounded in reality requires us to know the truth.
Sometimes we need help with the truth. In the past month, I’ve talked to several experts, people who know their stuff and who could help me take off my rose-colored glasses and see the crumbling walls and weak foundation.
I think God loves the truth, even if it’s not pretty because when we stand bare before him, with the truth shining all around, he scoops us up into his loving arms and starts the molding and shaping and changing we’ve been so heartily trying to do on our own.
2. The next thing I’ve realized is how these trials and hardships cause us to grow. I would like to grow without the school of hard knocks, but some things just can’t happen without a little pain. It’s true of strengthening our muscles or giving birth to a child. I can’t verify this, but I’m guessing the caterpillar turning into a butterfly isn’t a pain-free process, either. What if I promised you this trial would grow you and make you stronger, more real, more alive than you’ve ever been before? Would it be a little easier to hold on to hope if you knew that to be true?
3. And that leads me to the final thing I’m learning. Faith requires us to believe and to act on that belief, and trials are the perfect place for our faith in God to blossom or for the truth about what we believe to become apparent. Please don’t be shocked or think terribly of me, but this trial I’ve been walking through has had me asking questions like, what’s the point? Where is God? Why doesn’t He fix this? Is He even real?
When you’re met with silence to your prayers or the opposite of what you’re hoping for, those kinds of questions are inevitable, and I think they’re good to face. I walked into each question, plodded through it like a soldier mucking through a waist-high swamp, not knowing when solid ground would make its way back to his feet, and I kept coming back to two things.
And I can trust him.
There were no aha moments or voices from the great beyond, but God has testified to me in so many ways, and I believe he has for you, as well. All the things he has already brought me through–years of feeling unloved, struggles in my marriage, a lost job, an unsure future. Every time when things seemed like there was no answer that would fix it, God provided. Why would I even doubt that he wouldn’t provide now?
During this trial, I have been no better than the Israelites, roaming and whining in the desert and begging to go back to Egypt. And God has met me each time, like he did them, reminding me he is the God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our failures deserve or repay us according to our mistakes. I can believe, and I can act on that belief, living my life not waiting, but embracing, and he will bring an end to the pain and deliver me.
When I started writing this post, my trial had no end in sight, but within 24 hours, it appears God is bringing at least one of my current trials to a close. We don’t know what’s around the bend, but He does. Trust Him, dear one. He will show you to the other side. You’re going to get through this!