Because “many are the afflictions of the righteous,” (Psalm 34:19) it’s certainly comforting to know that “all these things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to them who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) In fact, in order to come through our many trials, difficulties, battles, and temptations victoriously, it is imperative that we make this promise in Romans 8:28 a vital part of our life.
If we don’t send the events of our daily lives through the filter of Romans 8:28, if we don’t constantly view our disappointments, hurts, tests, illnesses, opposition, battles, etc., through the perspective that Romans 8:28 gives us, we will sadly miss many valuable lessons the Lord is trying to teach us. And we will rob ourselves of the peace that comes from absolute trust in this precious promise and principle.
If we learn the simple equation, “Trials equal good,” our lives will be richer, our lessons greater, and our minds more tranquil, and we will more easily recognize the Lord’s hand in the events of our lives. It makes all the difference in the world whether we look at a flood of problems, trials, battles and tribulations just waiting to see the worst happen, or if we look at them with the excitement and challenge that comes from waiting to discover all the good we know the Lord will bring out of them.
God often does his best work in the darkness. God does not throw trials at us haphazardly … He does not accidentally let trials slip into our lives… Every trial we experience has been handcrafted by God for our good. Trials are God’s kiln. We are the clay, he is the master potter.
What good does God accomplish in the darkness? Here are just a few of the thousands of things God accomplishes.
He forces us to rely on Him.
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.—2 Corinthians 1:9 ESV
Trials remind us of what is already true: we are desperately dependent on God. We cannot function apart from God. We cannot make it to heaven apart from the sustaining grace of the God who raises dead men. God takes us through trials to decrease our self-confidence and increase our confidence in him.
He produces steadfastness in us.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.—James 1:2–3 ESV
Without steadfastness … we will be like seed that springs up quickly but has no root. We will have the life choked out of us by the cares of this world. God wants us to have a steadfast, steady faith, which is not easily rocked by trial and hardship. Trials cause our faith to mature and become steadfast.
He prepares us to comfort others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.—2 Corinthians 1:3–4 ESV
When we experience trials, we also experience God’s comfort in a unique way. As God’s comfort flows into our lives, we are then divinely prepared to comfort others who are enduring trials. We could not adequately comfort others if we didn’t first receive God’s comfort. Trials ready us to comfort others.
None of us can come to the highest maturity without enduring the summer heat of trials. As the sycamore fig never ripens if it be not bruised, as the corn does not leave the husk without threshing, and as wheat makes no fine flour till it be ground, so are we of little use till we are afflicted. Why should we be so eager to escape such benefits? We shall have to wait with patience, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” He waited to give grace to us; let us wait to give glory to him.
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken mast and sails;
I shall believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good to me;
And, though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
“I trust in Thee.”
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I shall believe the heights for which I strive,
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And, though I groan and tremble with my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses,
The greater gain.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
No physician ever weighed out medicine to his patient with half so much care and exactness as God weighs out to us every trial. Not one grain too much does He ever permit to be placed on the scale.
—Henry Ward Beecher
Difficulties, tests, trials, heartbreaks, suffering and disappointments come from many causes and for many reasons, but regardless of why they have come or what the reason, you can rest assured that all things work together for good to them that love Me. Because you love Me, I can take even these trials and turn them into blessings.
If you could see as I can see—beyond today, beyond this moment, beyond the pain which you are feeling—then you would better be able to understand why trials equal blessings. You would better be able to understand why this loss, this ache in your heart, this time when you are being sorely tempted and tested, can with time become a blessing to you.
The secret to understanding, the key to understanding, is in the phrase “with time.” As you believe by faith that My hand is on your life and that all things work together for good, with time, that which you believe by faith you will understand and see, and it will become a reality in your life.
—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
I have a life preserver, which is my most valued possession.
While sailing on the sea of life, so many times I have looked out to see a storm brewing on the horizon. I grab my life preserver and tie it on securely, then brace myself for the unforgiving blast that approaches.
When the storm hits, my little craft is tossed by the angry waves. They threaten to swamp and drown me, but with my life preserver, I know I will survive. No—more than survive. I will rise again, bruised and beaten perhaps, but victorious.
Sometimes the storms creep up on me from behind. Caught unawares in the raging fury, my boat capsizes, throwing me into the icy waters. I choke, sputter, and gasp for air, but find myself caught in a whirlpool. The more I struggle, the tighter the water holds me in its grip.
Alone, helpless, and defeated, I wait for the end, hope flickering like a melted candle. As I sink under the waters for the last time, a Voice comes over the sound of the storm. “Grab the life preserver! It is your only hope.”
Straining to see in the darkness, I catch sight of something floating on the water. It is my life preserver—always there when I need it most. I tie it on and immediately begin to float.
The darkness still envelops me. The sea still churns and foams and its angry waves threaten to pull me under. The rain continues to sting my cheeks. But I am buoyant once again. With complete trust, secure in my life preserver, I am content to wait out the storm.
What is the secret of my life preserver? It is so simple that you may dismiss it. It is the verse from the Bible: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
ALL things—storms, rain, and winds included—are for our GOOD.
Someday, somehow, we will understand.
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