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A New Perspective on Trials
Sorry this is long, but I wanted to share with you what God’s been teaching me. It’s not the trial, it’s how I respond to the trial that matters. I know what I’m about to say will be inadequate, but this thought has been really helpful in gaining a new perspective on trials.
It’s not just going through it, but trusting and giving thanks to God through it that’s important. Going through it triumphantly and victoriously! Well, I don’t always do the triumphant and victorious so well. Sometimes I go stumbling–trudging–along, and sometimes I sail as on wings. Why is that?! Sometimes I go through major trials great and smaller trials are huge and trip me up.
Despite this, I believe God can bring fruit in my life from trials and make me stronger in the Lord. I also believe that God places some trials in my life as, well, a kind of test, which, if passed, moves me to the next level deeper in my knowledge of Him, stronger in faith, and at a higher level of maturity as a Christian.
I’ve been driving back and forth every day an hour or more each way to the hospital to be with my mom this past week. She has now spent the weekend in a Nursing Home, where she’ll stay for rehabilitation, after 5 days in the hospital, but still an hour or more drive one way from my home. (Can you tell the driving’s getting to me?)
This past Wednesday, we watched the fifth session of the Anger Resolution Seminar, which we’re hosting at our home. We’ve attended it once before, and I remember thinking it was amazing, and I was able to apply it in so many ways to my life. Certainly not just about anger problems. Well, I was very sleepy Wednesday night, from all this driving and the stress of my mom being in the hospital and all, and I was really struggling to stay awake during the video. I thought I’d missed it all, dozing off repeatedly. So, I was surprised to find two days later as I drove down to the hospital that I was suddenly able to remember something important and very applicable to my present situation from the seminar. (I guess I didn’t sleep through everything, after all!)
G.R.E.A.T. This is an acronym which already has meaning for me, in this series, entitled Mondays Are G.R.E.A.T. (Grateful, Rejoicing, Encouraged And Thankful!) But, G.R.E.A.T. is also an acronym that Mr. Gothard uses in the seminar! So, I’m driving along, and all of a sudden I remember the story he told (not going into that now, for lack of time), and I remember that the trial isn’t the test: how I respond to the trial, during and after and in the midst of it–that’s the test!
Mr. Gothard, in the seminar, teaches us to thank the Lord in all things, even when something “bad” happens to us, because God is sovereign, right? and in control, and because we know that Romans 8:28-29 states that all things work together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose, and in order to conform us to Jesus Christ’s image and character. Our trials are not wasted. He has a purpose for them, which will be for our good, and He can make us more like Christ through our trials.
So. I’m driving down Hiawatha Avenue, grinning like a fool, (I almost laughed out loud!) because I remembered that Mr. Gothard had used the acronym G.R.E.A.T.! And I remembered what it stood for!
- G=Give Thanks
- E=Engraft (memorize and personalize) the Word of God
- A=Appeal to God, and
- T=Triumph through Good Works.
A Hard Thing To Admit
You know, it’s hard for me to admit, but this whole thing with my mom has been a really hard trial for me–really difficult. I have felt the weight of responsibility for everything: all the decisions, my mom’s care, whether and how well she recovers, even for her salvation, not resting on my shoulders, but laying squarely and heavily on them. I know that’s not logical, it’s not true, it’s not spiritually correct, etc., etc., etc. That hasn’t seemed to matter. At least not too much.
Moment of Triumph
However, Friday was a moment of triumph. I remembered that the first thing I’m to do when going through a trial, or facing something “bad” is to Give Thanks, knowing that from God’s perspective it’s going to ultimately work the character of Christ into my life, and perhaps God intends blessing in other ways, as well.
So, I’m driving down to the hospital on Friday, and all of a sudden, I’m having this lightbulb moment! My trial is a test! Pass/Fail! And just getting through it isn’t an option. But, during this lightbulb moment, I realize that I am slowly failing! I felt that I was doing anything but sailing through this trial! But, now God was showing me how to turn things around. I could thank God for this trial right now!
I just about laughed out loud! Immediately I began to think of how if I could really see this trial from the other side, from God’s perspective, I might truly thank Him and rejoice! God could use this trial to bring glory to Himself! And He could cause me to grow in Christlike character!
Maybe This Was Why It All Happened In the First Place!
If, after this was all over, I found out that someone had been saved, would it not have been worth it all? Of course, it would! This is just one example of an outcome that I would not be able to see from my side of the trial, but God could! And, in fact, God gave me opportunity to make a connection with one of the little gals in the valet parking booth, a young gal from Thailand married to an American, who I saw several times.
I struck up a conversation with her, and she opened up to me amazingly, talking about how she loved cooking spicy Thai food for her husband, sharing about her mother who had almost died, sharing about her apprehensions about being rotated to another location to work, which she didn’t anticipate to be as good as the one she was leaving. She was such a sweetie, and I know that wasn’t a “chance” meeting. That was a “divine appointment.” When I left, I asked her if I might have her write down her name, at least her first name, so that I could pray for her, and she gave me her full name. And I gave her a tract: “Steps to Peace with God.” Will you pray with me that she may be saved?
I also knew that if I responded with God’s peace and love in this trial, it could be an awesome testimony to all the unsaved people around me (medical staff and family). I couldn’t help but begin to praise the Lord!! I could almost hear the cloud of witnesses clapping!! The circumstances weren’t the important thing–but how I would respond! Trusting that God knows better than I, and that He’s working all things together for my good, and that I’m to Give Thanks, and that there’s a whole host, a cloud of witnesses standing by watching, waiting and cheering for me, I sang and shouted, and praised the Lord! As I praised and thanked Him, it was amazing how my attitude, and spirit, changed.
Floating Along on a Breeze? I Don’t Think So
Now, I’d like to say that I have floated along since then, but that would not be true. I’ve had a rough weekend, getting tripped up with taking that huge weight back on my shoulders, that I know doesn’t belong there! Yet, I have felt that somehow everything was depending on me, and how on earth could I handle that? I couldn’t. So, I just said to God, “Help.” Nothing I can do, Lord. I’m totally unable to handle this, Lord. You’ve got to help me. I know I keep on taking this huge weight on myself, that I’m not supposed to carry, but I can’t seem to stop it! Please help me.
And He did. First of all, my sister and brother-in-law came and gave me a break yesterday. Secondly, my mom was so much better today when our family went to see her. (Pray that she continues to get better, and doesn’t have a setback.) Thirdly, she told me I didn’t need to come every day, and she really wanted my daughter to be able to come with me on Tuesday, so I am going to stay home tomorrow (Monday) rather than go down and stay overnight, as earlier planned. I hate to admit it, but I really feel the need to stay home, so I’m thankful. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m an unloving daughter.
As I trudge through this trial, I’m wondering what kind of “grade” the Lord would give me, if He were to grade me. But, then I remember Job. I need to trust God–before, during and after–because it’s not possible to even trudge through the trial, much less sail through, without God’s strength, and I, like Job, may never know the complete story until I get to heaven. So, trudge or float, I pray that God will glorify Himself through me, work all things together for good, and conform me to His image through this trial.
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