A couple of days ago I was listening to a segment of the radio show Walk In The Word with James MacDonald. He was opening up a series called “What are trials?” and of course it captured my attention for the rest of my ride that early afternoon. He said many things that spoke right to my heart regarding trials, but his definition of what a trial really is caused me to ponder. I don’t remember his exact words, but it went something like: “trials are painful situations allowed by God to transform who we are and what we do.”
Since it is not a matter of if but of when we go through trials, I think it is a good idea to reflect a bit on this definition, and for that, I would invite you to visit http://jamesmacdonald.com/ to catch up with his study on this topic. Here, today, however, I just wanted to use this opportunity to make it personal.
I want to be transformed! I want God to work in me and make me new! I don’t want to continue to fight the same old battles every time. I am really tired of the stronghold the enemy has in me, which keeps me from casting, truly, truly tossing all my anxieties to the feet of the Cross and move on. And after thinking about MacDonald’s definition, I have come to realize that until I am really transformed, I will continue to struggle through the same type of trials.
The thing is that God will continue to allow trials to enter into my life for as long as it takes my heart and my actions to change. Each trial, each hardship, each storm I go through is an instrument God uses to refine me until I come out the other side as a new creation. This is His act of love for me. If He didn’t love me, He wouldn’t care to transform me into someone who can be in His presence. If by His grace He hadn’t chosen me to be His child, I would not need to be refined. Like a parent who out of love disciplines and corrects his children, and not the neighbor’s kids, God uses trials to put us on the right path to Sanctification as we journey along this life.
In my case, I am terrified of medical tests. Anything that has to do with waiting for results gives me the creeps. Even when it is a routine test and there is no real reason to be concerned, I fret! I’m not proud of it, but it is a way in which God reveals to me my lack of trust in Him…this realization saddens me. How could I not trust Him!? He, the God Almighty, the One who Fills the Air with His Glory, The One Who is Capable to Raise the Dead…how could I not trust Him?
I don’t know how I could be such a hard- head…but I am, and He knows it. He created me. But the good news is that He works in me. I guess God enjoys challenges, huh? The miracle is that by transforming me, His glory shines. Those closest to me, those who know about the darkness in my life also know that any change in me is not by my own doing…On the contrary, it is evident that only by the Power of the Most High I can take the baby steps I take toward fully trusting My Savior, My Lord.
Therefore, with each test I take, with each visit to the doctor’s, with each moment in the waiting room, with each anxious day waiting for a phone call…God is maturing me. He is showing me ways in which I can remain calm. He is showing me avenues I can take to find His face and hear His voice every time I lose my way. He is giving me insight as to what to do every time I allow panic to enter my mind. He is revealing the calming truth of His presence. He is chiseling away the strongholds that keep me prisoner to fear. He is removing the veil that keeps me blind to His peace and His hope.
It is my job, then, to see each “test” as an opportunity for God to continue to work in me. And see each one as one step closer to where He wants me to be.
It is my job to see trials as what they really are: painful adventures custom-made for my own situation to bring me closer to Him as He transform what I do and who I am.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 12-13