Trials are so valuable because they form a Christian into what God needs them to be. We do not know what is in us until we have been put to the test.
Sufferings and disappointments are necessary to form our character. The faith and courage we show in a time of enthusiasm show their true character only when the soul is helpless and has nothing to lean on except Christ and His Word.
This was the reason for Jacob’s trials that brought him to the end of his strength. Peter experienced a similar blessing when, after falling, his self-confidence was in shambles.
Trials are opportunities for overcomers
We will owe thanks for our eternal crowns because of our trials. They are opportunities for us to overcome and offer the prospect of rewards that will never pass away. The eternal results of these trials in our lives will shine when the entire history of the world is forgotten, all accounts of time will be erased, and the solar system will no longer exist.
Trials help us to know God’s sources of help for us. Only in the difficult circumstances do we learn to have full sufficiency in Him. Israel first had to stand still at the Red Sea and see the salvation that God worked for them (Exodus 14:10-14). He taught them in dramatic situations, without natural strength or their own strength, to let themselves fall into the hand of God. Here they learned practically what Jesus later told the Jews: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). God becomes real to us to the extent that we become aware of our need. He Himself meets us in crises. Thus, every difficult situation is simply an opportunity for Him to make Himself known to us in His infinite wisdom, power, and grace.
Trials teach us faith
Trials are the fertile soil of trust that teaches us faith. Difficulties are divinely-permitted promptings that challenge and develop our confidence in divine faithfulness and love. The eagle supports its young to learn to fly by helping the anxious candidates fall out of the nest. Now they are dependent on their own wings; they either fly or fall. Thus they learn to develop strength and trust in their small wings. By flapping them in desperate effort, they discover the secret of a new life. Little by little, they learn to fly with their own wings and find their way through the sky. When the first attempt is made, the mother eagle watches carefully over them, ready to catch her young one should it fail. Later, however, she expects the young ones to fly with their own strength.
In this way, God also teaches His children to use their wings of faith. He destroys a deceptive sense of security, taking away their supports and throwing them out into an abyss of helplessness. But here is where they experience God’s sustaining and protecting wings, like the mother eagle that catches and preserves her young until they slowly grow strong and learn to trust.
We prefer to learn from things we can see and feel. But as children of the almighty God, it is essential that we learn to fully trust in the invisible One. Only then can our soul remain in deep, godly rest even in stormy times, because God is our All in All.
God carefully adjusts the trial to the measure of our strength. He only leads us further on when we are capable of doing so. While we trust God in our difficult times, we will be able to suffer as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Trials teach us to pray
Trials force us to be alone with God a lot. They drove Jacob to his knees at the ford of the Jabbok River (Genesis 32:23-30). They taught the Psalmist to find “the shelter of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1, NIV). In Paul’s life, they led to a never-ending trust in the Lord, and they have led many millions of people to trust in God since then.
It is very humbling that it is only through suffering and hardship that we flee to His bosom. It is unfortunately true that He has to take away our supports to teach us to trust Him. Every mature Christian can confess that it was during times of pain and disappointments that his soul was greatly refreshed and blessed by the presence of God. In such times, he could agree with the Psalmist: “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities” (Psalm 31:7).
Trials teach us love
Is it not sometimes the chastening of unjust treatment in which our minds are softened and purified and our lives filled with patience and love? Although we pray for these very qualities, we long for a simpler method. Often the harshest injustice must force us to go to Him so that He can show us the love that “bears all things” and “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
When we fail in testing, it is the Holy Spirit who leads us to the source of strength as we gradually learn the humble lesson. God leads us forward day by day in deeper testing and more complete purification until we can thank Him for the fire that has brought us more of the grace of His Spirit and His overcoming love.
Trials teach us patience
Trials are so valuable for us because they teach us to “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Often in our spiritual life, it is these sufferings that have taught us the most patience.
Trials teach us courage
As we experience God’s sustaining and strengthening grace in trials, the fear of suffering and pain begins to fade. They enable us to put on His strength and courage and rise above the power of fearfulness until we welcome the battle and stand with the scars of struggle and victory as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Trials enable us to help others
The callous and impure heart is little fit to comfort, counsel, and bless a suffering world. First, the purifying school of God is necessary. The painful ordeal of a real experience enables us to encourage, comfort, and strengthen the souls to whom He has sent us and to whom we can say: “I have been through this myself, and I can testify from the depth of my own experience: ‘And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’” (Philippians 4:19).