Trials, difficulties, struggles, challenges. They all happen to each of us throughout life. These situations come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors: job loss, loss of a loved one, divorce, or a health challenge. As Christians, we should not be surprised when they happen (although they do sometimes catch us off guard). Scripture reminds us that we should not be surprised when challenges come in our lives: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you– 1 Peter 4:12, NLT. Whatever the situation, we have a choice as to how we react…we can try to embrace the challenge and push through it, or we can resist it and possibly become bitter and angry because this thing has happened to us. The path we travel on during our situation is really up to us. And for Christians, as we push through our situation, we do not do it alone.
In my own experiences, my trials have eventually turned out for my good. Note I said “eventually”! The good from my situations was not instantaneous, but was revealed over the course of time. And as a result of my challenges, I am a better person, a stronger person, a more compassionate person, a more grateful person. So, as we are facing difficulties, what can we do to get through them, to the point where we can see the good, and can experience the transformation that God wants to make in us?
Choose our perspective
How do we view this negative experience? In our mind, is it the end of the world, or is it an opportunity for a new beginning? James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us of this: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NLT) This trial is an opportunity for our endurance to grow! Something good will come out of this! We choose to look at this situation from that perspective.
Choose to trust God
As we experience our trials, we can choose go to the Word of God to bolster our faith. When we read passages about the heroes of faith (Moses, Mary, Paul, and Joshua are just a few examples), we can see how God worked in their lives, and we are reminded that He can also work in ours (AMEN!) We can also look back on my own life and remind myself of what God has already done for me (if we were to really count our blessings, we would lose count!) As we read Scripture and look back at past blessings, we are learning to trust God more and more in what’s happening right now. If He did it before, for me as well as for others, can He not do it again?
Choose to be patient with ourselves
We should remember that as we experience trials, our change may not be instantaneous (in fact, most times, it’s not). There may be days when we feel we’ve make one step forward, and the next day we get knocked two steps backwards. That’s ok. We should be patient with ourselves as we trust and believe that we are being transformed by God (and that transformation happens by the renewing of our minds…see Romans 12:2). So, be patient with the process…it is a process. We choose to be patient and to take each day as it comes, believing by faith that transformation is happening (even if we cannot see or feel it).
As we press through trials, we have choices! We can choose to be bitter or better, we can choose to trust God, and we can choose to take things one step at a time. It’s up to us. Make a decision to want to be better as a result of what has happened to you. And watch what God does in you and through you. The lyrics of this song by James Bignon remind us of this:
“On the other side of through
There’s a blessing waiting for you
Your troubles will not last
There’s a blessing
There’s a blessing
On the other side of through”