(written Dec. 16, 2005)
Trials seem to be the path for Christian maturity.
Some trials in our lives are consequences from sin or a bad decision. If you drive impaired, you may get in an accident and harm yourself or others. If you don’t study diligently, you may not succeed in your studies. If you abuse your body with immorality, you may suffer natural consequences. If you abuse drugs and/or alcohol, you will abuse your body. If you don’t remain faithful or put enough love and effort into your marriage or offspring relationships, they may fail.
During a trial, we first need to search our heart to see if repentence will bring relief.
However, after we have searched our hearts and do not see the suffering as a consequent for intentional sin, our hearts may cry out to God. Sometimes accusingly, sometimes in lack of understanding, sometimes we just cry. And God hears.
“How can this be happening to me?” we have all asked. “Why?” or “Why me?”
We don’t have to know the answers to these questions, because we have the ability to know the very heart and character of God.
There, and there alone, is where our comfort will be. We need to trust the Savior and to allow the trials to wash over us, while enveloped in His victorious arms, our head upon His breast of love, and our hearts trusting in the One who can calm the storm.
We can never look at God our Father and think that because we are suffering that He is not a good God. Our circumstances are the exact proof that He is a good God and He is a good Father.
Teaching our children to ride a bike is a wonderfully exciting time for parent and child. We are thrilled that our child is learning one more skill on their way to adulthood, the child is excited to show their maturity by conquering some much-admired skill.
But, in the process of instructing, have you ever let go of that little bicycle and your child has fallen? Have they ever been scraped or bumped because you let go? Did you put them back on the bike and make them try again? Did they fall again? I dare say yes, as the mother of six children, I have had my responsibility in many fallen riders. But, we KNOW if they don’t get back on, and if they don’t fall a few times, they WON’T learn to ride their bicycles. Does that make you a bad parent?
Have you ever watched your child spend grueling hours practicing and conditioning for a sporting event, and have given their all during competition, at the expense to their body? Some kids suffer broken bones, may vomit, suffer shinsplints and sprains, or may get dehydrated. Does that make you a bad parent because you allowed that?
Has your child neglected your advice then suffer serious consequences? You could have stepped in, but you know that the best way for them to learn is to suffer the consequences. Does that make you a bad parent?
So, why are we, as parents, so quick to defend ourselves, and so quick to accuse a Holy and Loving God, our Heavenly Father, who desires, even more than we, good things for His children?
Matthew 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Have we asked for patience? Have we asked to learn to hate our sin? Have we asked to be strenthened? Have we asked for faithfulness? We asked. He is answering the prayers by asking us, as His children, to earn it and learn it.
Do we not see that these trials are for our good?
Just as an earthly father would hold the bicycle, the Heavenly Father is walking beside us, carefully holding the circumstances of our lives, knowing just when to hold on so the ride is easy, knowing just when to let go, so that we will learn to hold ourselves up with the knowledge and faith He has given us.
He has promised to dwell within us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. He has promised His Word is always true, always unfailing, always perfect. He has promised salvation freely offered to all through faith in Jesus Christ. He is always a good Father. He is always a Father to be trusted.
It is time for us to take off our training wheels in the path of suffering in our lives. Remember, the path leads to maturity.