Trials 8 - Summary, conclusion and other resources

In exploring this incredible subject I hope I’ve been able to help you in one way or another. Here are the things we’ve looked at:
  • A trial can be defined as anything that brings our trust in God into question. What this looks like varies from person to person.
  • Although trials can come from many sources, God rules over all and can use anything for our good.
  • We need trials to grow our steadfastness, and our relationship with God. The crown of life is worth so much more than the comfort of an easy life
  • A Christian surprised by trials is like a student surprised by lectures and assignments. So we should get ready now.
  • God will give us all we need to respond rightly to trials: we can swim and not sink.

Concluding thoughts
Calvin Miller said, “Tough times don’t last for long but tough saints go on forever.”

When trials come – and they will – let’s receive them with thanks, believing them to be a necessary precursor to greater faith and steadfastness, a closer relationship with God, and ultimately eternal life. To return to the metaphor we started with, when trials come through the door our response should be, “I’ve been expecting you, let’s go.”

When I say “receive with thanks,” I’m not talking about thanking God for a bad thing, but trusting Him that it can achieve some good and thanking Him for that. This is an act of faith: seeing past the trial to the blessing that it can bring. I’m reminded of this whenever I watch The Simpsons on TV which is preceded by annoying sponsors’ adverts. The adverts irritate me but I know they mean that something I’m looking forward to it nearly here.

Finally, don’t quit. When trials come you will be tempted to abandon God, to give up on your faith… but that will mean you only experience the pain and not the gain! Pray as faithful people have learnt over the centuries: ‘Lord, don’t end this until I’ve learnt what you’re teaching.’ This is a hard road but it has a glorious destination.

Learn to obey God when it’s difficult; learn what it is to put your whole life in His hands without knowing what He will give back to you; learn what it is to not fully know what’s going on but to know the One who has promised faithfully to be by your side at all times and work all things for your good. What a people God will have if we do these things in our times of trials!

Resources I've found helpful
First and foremost, read stories of people’s lives in the Bible and see the trials they went through. The life of the early church in Acts has God’s intended mix of the miraculous and the agonising.

One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitskyn. An incredible examination of a Christian’s response to trials.

Charles Spurgeon has much that is helpful to say about trials:
I’m aware that whilst looking at the subject of trials, I’ve touched on suffering. If that’s what you’re particularly interested in, there’s a wealth of material on John Piper’s website, and there’s a half-hour talk on the theology on suffering by Joni Eareckson Tada here.

Furthermore, I haven’t really mentioned healing in the context of physical sickness either, but by checking out the blog of my friend Wendy Mann you can read about some of the amazing things God is doing today.