Trials and the question “Why”
Trials and the question “Why”
As military wives, we are well acquainted with periods of hardship and trials. Sometimes, it feels like we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of trials. If you are getting through one, another is just around the corner, waiting to sneak up on you like the mud puddle that keeps pummeling poor Jule Anne in the book “Mud Puddle” by Robert Munsch (Cute children’s book!). Whether it is your spouse being deployed, or away for training, or another PCS where you have to find new friends, there is always a difficulty to overcome. It often feels like you never get a chance to catch your breath. It doesn’t matter how bad things get, they can always get worse – at least, that is how it often feels.
In the midst of trials and periods of hardship, my most asked question to God is “Why?” I want to understand why He is putting my family through such pain and heartache. I want to know why life has to be this hard and this complicated. I want to know why we had to be a “special” family. All I ever wanted was to be a “normal” family, with a “normal” husband, who had a “normal” job. You know, a 9 to 5 job, home for dinner every night, and soccer games on the weekends with the kids – normal.
But, God has seen fit to make me a part of the 1% of Americans that are spouses of military service men and women. He has seen fit to give me a special place, with a special plan for my life, just like He has a special plan for your life, and the life of your family. But knowing that there is a plan for my life doesn’t always help in the middle of the tough stuff. When things get heavy and the air gets thick, we want to know “why”. What is the purpose of this? If I could just understand what the outcome is supposed to be, then it would be easier to endure – right?
The Lord knows our hearts deeply and intimately, even before we were born He knew them. And so, He has placed answers to our questions all throughout Scripture. They are not always the answers that we want, but they are HIS answers. If we want to know “why”, all we need to do is open His Word and read.
James 1:2-4 says,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The first answer we are given about our trials is a simple definition. What are trials? James says that trials are the “testing of our faith”. Every trial and hardship we endure is God’s way of testing our faith. At first, this may seem like something a cruel and unloving god would do. Why would God test us just to see whether we will be faithful and failures? Why would He put us through pain just to see if we can make the cut?
The answer is, He wouldn’t. The word “test” here is not implying that God pushes our buttons to see if we will break. Think of the way fine metals are tempered (hardened). They are placed under extreme heat, over and over again. The purpose isn’t simply to make the metal really hot, it is to make it stronger and stronger with each tempering process. God does the same thing with us. He tempers our faith through trials.
But, we still want to know why. James says by putting us through trial after trial, God is producing in us steadfastness. This can also be translated perseverance. Each trial we endure through, by God’s grace, makes us stronger to withstand the future trials that await us. You see, our trials and hardships are all a part of our sanctification. The way James put it is, “that you may perfect and complete lacking nothing”. God is making us more and more like Him. Each time He places us in the fire just long enough to make us stronger, and then He takes us out, lets us cool, and starts again.
It isn’t an easy process. It is often extremely painful and uncomfortable. We can feel the blistering heat on our faces. But, God is there in all of His glory with a mighty purpose. So, when you endure the trials of this life faithfully and patiently, remember that with each passing day you are being made more and more like Jesus. And that is the “why” that gives us a powerful reason to endure.