"For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
(2 Corinthians 1:5, ESV)
So far this blog has focused a lot on suffering and lament and attempting to tackle the false teachings that can make our earthly trials that much worse. Focusing on these important topics has been extremely therapeutic for me personally, but the sad aspects of our trials only reflect part of the picture. We cannot neglect shouting about the many ways that God uses our trials for His glory and our good. Hopefully, if you are going through a trial, these meditations will spark your own musings as you recount all the ways that God has been good to you.
1) God uses our trials to make us into conduits of his comfort.
When you really stop and ponder this concept, it's mind blowing! The high and holy God, creator of heaven and earth and of all things that live and breathe, gives us unworthy, created mortals the privilege of being conduits for his loving comfort to flow into this suffering world. The scriptures explain how this works:
The God of all comfort
"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"
(1 Cor. 1:4, ESV). Notice the progression here: God gives us his comfort in the midst of our trials so that we can give his comfort to others. We see this being played out all over the place in the church today. Those who have experienced various kinds of struggles and trials are uniquely prepared to offer comfort to those who are currently struggling. Of course, this can only happen if we draw near to him in our trials so that we can receive his comfort. This brings me to a second, but related point.
2) God uses our trials to refine us.
Throughout my journey with infertility, the Lord has used his word to comfort me. I often journaled the Bible verses God used to speak to me. Sometimes I would come across a verse during my Bible reading or a verse would be brought to my mind. At other times the daily verse on my Bible app seemed perfectly timed as if it was meant just for me, speaking words of life and comfort and hope specific to my situation. One of those verses was from Psalm 143:10, ESV:
"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!"
This verse has popped up repeatedly through various channels so I think I haven't learned it well (and I'm still learning it!). I also think this verse runs counter to a lot of the self-centered "Christian" messages we hear today (one of the reasons I've had to examine and slough off false teachings as part of my journey toward healing and wholeness).
Notice in this verse that David is asking God to teach him to do God's will. Our natural bent is to fulfill our own fleshly desires. Sometimes our trials are a result of us trying to get God to do our will, rather than surrendering to his. As we yield to Christ and his life is formed in us, our desires should conform more and more to his (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 16:24-26, Luke 22:42, Galatians 2:20). Part of this refinement involves seeing things as God sees them, which is our next point.
3) God uses our trials to give us an eternal perspective.
In my situation, I believe God has been using my season of infertility for kingdom work. He has had some work for me to accomplish that I could not have done if I had been married at the age I wanted to be or had kids when I wanted them. My husband and I are in ministry and God has given us a very large spiritual family. In order to follow his leading in our lives, we both moved far away (to the other side of the world before marriage) from our biological families. Our current ministry is also not near either of our families. Because of this and because we don't have our own kids yet, he has been using this season to increase my love and value for the family of God. We see Jesus making the point in Matthew 12:46-50 that our true family is made up of those who do God's will. Jesus placed a higher value on this "true" family than on his own biological family. In doing this, he sets an example for us to follow.
God has a unique calling and gifts for each of us, and only he knows best how to weave together the tapestry of our lives to fulfill the purposes that he has for us. We cannot accomplish his will for our lives by comparing ourselves to others. We must get his perspective on our situation by regularly immersing ourselves in his word and being obedient.
There are many more ways that God uses our trials for good. These are just a few for today to spark your own thinking. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading and may the Lord richly bless you and encourage you as you press on to know him more.
I will close with a kickback from the 90s: Trials Turned to Gold by PFR. Enjoy! :-)