1 Peter 1:6-9 (NLT), “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
These are hard words to read during a painful trial that seems to have no end. Sometimes it blindsides us and we reel with feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, and out of control. Maybe this trial was caused by the result of someone else’s choices that we didn’t see coming. Maybe it stems from our own bad decisions, and we are left stumbling through consequences that we brought to our doorstep. We have all been there at least once and it hurts. It is confusing and frightening. It feels like there is no way out from under the damage. We feel helpless. How desperately we want Jesus to take it all away!
A few things I have learned about trials is this; oftentimes God uses the trial we are walking through to change us. When we are living unchallenged, complacent, comfortable, and self-reliant, He may use a tough situation or circumstance to move us away from destructive patterns and steer us in a new and healthy direction. After a breast cancer diagnosis, my world collapsed in a matter of moments. Everything I thought I knew and understood was destroyed. Nothing made sense. Never had I felt so vulnerable, helpless, and terrified. No one could walk this path for me or take it away and there was no one, but God, who could carry me through this. I had a choice to make at that moment; allow despair and terror to reign in my world, or choose to put it at His feet, extravagantly hope and believe there was a purpose somewhere in this. I chose hope and it was my lifeline. I did not know His plans – would I survive? Through the two years of treatments and surgeries, hope and unexpected blessings, pain, and fear, I discovered that feeling helpless is NOT the same as being helpless. With God we are not helpless. He is always as close as our next breath and never leaves us to face trials alone. He is the source of all hope.
I truly believe He uses our pain and rough seasons to purify and beautify us and our faith, so that one day he will clearly see His image in us. Self-reliance, pride, and self-righteousness have no place amid a life altering trial. It is surprising and beautiful how compassion and empathy are born during difficulty, pain, and loss if we choose to trust ourselves to the One who created us. He will make a way. We can be confident that God will separate something priceless from the dross of our experiences.
Imagine God’s joy and delight as He skims off the gunk and begins to see HIS image in us; something priceless! I hope it makes you smile knowing the Creator of galaxies is so invested and in love with each one of us, that He takes all the time necessary to allow us to feel the heat of trials, so that He can one day bring forth, for the world to see, the radiant beauty of our life testimonies. We can be a beacon of hope, salvation, and love to a world full of hurting humans who need to hear a word of hope and see a life redeemed.