Can Trials and Tribulations Be A Good Thing?

Black and white photo of an old car stuck in the mud

When you first accepted Christ into your heart, you most likely felt like you had conquered the world and that the problems you had up to that point no longer seemed so difficult. What a pleasant time it was, with little to fear. But it was not long before the euphoria faded and new concerns and struggles started to appear. Then you began questioning why you made this choice in the first place. It can seem that, as soon as one difficult situation is taken care of, another arises—sometimes even more than one! Now those problems you thought you had overcome when you became a child of God are coming at you with a vengeance. Does it have to be this way? Will you have to forever fight against these difficulties? Will you ever find peace and rest?

Your answer is twofold. First, if you are not following God’s plan for your life, by insisting on going your own way (or continuing your old habits), then these problems will always plague you. They are the product of disobedience. You may not be intentionally rebelling against God, but you are still not obeying His commands and following in His paths. Many times you blame someone else, or even the devil, for what is actually the consequence of your own wrongful actions. You also may blame God, thereby only adding to the violations you have already committed against Him!

Man bent over laying bricks

Secondly, God will send various circumstances and trials your way to strengthen and shape you into the person that He has already pictured you becoming. God is building you in a manner resembling a bricklayer forming a wall. A wall is never begun from the top or the middle. The bricklayer first lays one row of bricks on the bottom foundation, then another on top of that, and another, until eventually the top of the wall is reached. Just as it is with these bricks, each test God permits to come upon you provides support or preparation for the next one. Some believe that God is just preparing us with these problems and situations for the future when we will rule and reign with His Son after He returns to Earth. But actually, all of this is for the time we are now living in. God wants us to be able to manage each future difficult situation patiently and in full confidence—not in ourselves—but in Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul said, “…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3,4).

Many were brought up with the mindset that we must try to avoid all problems that could occur in our life. Therefore, when God sends trying circumstances our way, we do our best to evade them. We often succeed in bypassing the trial, but that does not mean that we have passed God’s test. God will send the circumstance back to us in another form instead, and will continue to do so until we stop avoiding it and learn to turn to Him for help in overcoming it.

Many believers around the world struggle with the same afflictions year after year. Some continue to follow a manmade method to circumvent these ordeals, without having the slightest realization that God wants them to go through the trials, not around them. Others give up on God entirely and fall back into the old sinful worldly system they were once delivered from. They conclude that living for God is too much trouble, not realizing that all they needed to do was to learn to turn the problem over to God and leave it there.

God wants you to make good use of the trials and tribulations you encounter as a means of correction and growth. He never intended for them to drag you down and, ultimately, away from Him. When a situation arises that is greater than you can handle, do what the psalmist did: “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” (Psalm 73:16,17). He came to the point where he could not understand or resolve the problem he faced on his own. He found that the best thing to do was to go before God for the answer.

Woman looking downward with book in hand near face with bluish fog and trees in background

When problems come your way, seek the Lord first and inquire whether the latest problem arose as a result of your own actions. He wants us to know that it is a good thing when trials and tribulations come after He sees areas in us in need of strengthening. God does not want our problems to leave us fearful, upset, or discouraged. Instead He tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [various trials or testings]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect [blameless] and entire, wanting [lacking] nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Are you in a perplexing situation right now, or sense that one is on its way? Don’t hang your head low in defeat. Look up, and rejoice that God wants to improve your life! He alone is the source of your victory over whatever problem or obstacle you may encounter. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication [petition] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7).

[Image credits:flickr/Mennonite Church USA, maxpixel [1] & [2]]