I trust God, or so I like to say. I understand that his ways are not my ways and that the way he orcharates my life is always for his glory and for my good. Why then can I not sit back and relax. Why do I worry and stress? I think CS Lewis nailed it on the head when he said:
We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;we’re wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
Haven’t we often said to ourselves that we know that God is good and yet we are a bit afraid of what he will do in our lives?
I don’t think anyone likes pain. I know I certainly don’t, and I go to great lengths to avoid it. But I am beginning to learn that the Christian life and difficulty are married.
We see it a lot in scripture. God working in peoples lives, out of his goodness, for the holiness of his people. And most of the times it is painful.
Joseph was sold by his brothers, falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, and forgotten in prison. He experienced many years of pain before God lifted him to a position where he could help and save his country and his family. Through it all his faith was tested and strengthened.
The children of Israel saw God working with their own eyes; the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, God going before them in a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke. They were miraculously provided for and preserved and yet it did not take long for them to turn from God. They complained and to forgot his goodness. It was only through their difficulty that they turned back to God and grew into a great nation.
Paul not only had a crazy conversion, he also had a very adventurous and intense life, but it wasn’t in a good way. He was beaten, arrested, and shipwrecked just to name a few of his experiences (2 Cor. 11:25 ). But through these hardships Paul grew into an amazing man of God who as used to write most of the New Testament epistles.
But why? Why do we need to go through affliction in order to grow? Can’t we learn the easy way? The answer must be, no. I think it is the nature of sin. It cannot be eradicated peacefully or painlessly. The process of growth is pretty much always painful because it means killing sin. It is the only way our wayward hearts can be changed.
Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.
The Pain of God’s Goodness does at least four things in our lives.
1. It Brings us to our Knees
In all of our life experiences, especially the difficult ones, there are the God-given opportunities to to pray more diligently and zealously. Affliction and pain is God’s gracious instrument used to fix our hearts on him and drive us to the throne of grace.
Our prayers are too often only said in prosperity—now they are prayed! In prosperity, they do but drop—now they are poured out, and flow like a stream
John A. James
2. It Proves our Adoption
God has promised that if we belong to him he will discipline us (Heb 12:6-8). There is no greater proof of his special love for his children than when he corrects us in our sin. No earthly father, who truly cares for his children, will let them pursue sin without correcting them. We should see our painful days as God’s fatherly care for us, leading us to share in his holiness.
3. It Strengthens our Faith
We are precious as gold in the sight of God, and affliction purifies us just as fire purifies gold. Through difficulties we are purified and strengthened in our faith. Do we want to have a strong faith? Then it needs to be exercised. Our dark days become the gym in which we work out our faith. Affliction is the garden in which our faith grows most fruitfully. Through trials and hardships the true measure of our faith comes to light.
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet 1:7
4. It Builds Virtue
Trials build character (James 1:2-4). Without trials our godly character would become stagnant and useless, like standing water which stinks and is good for nothing. But the divinely orchestrated trial of life stir and refresh the waters of faith.
God made us for so much more than what we currently are. And he is slowly working in us his mighty work of restoration through pain in order to restore us once again into the beautiful likeness of Christ. This masterpiece won’t be complete until we are in heaven, but it begins now in our everyday, mundane, and often difficult lives.
It is natural to be apprehensive of trials, they hurt. But they also heal. We think we may be crushed beneath the load, but we can be sure that God is always be helping us hold up under it, and uses it to make us what he wants us to be.