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The Purpose of Trials

*pictured our last Thanksgiving as a family of 6*

October used to be the month that would kick off months of celebration of us.

Eleanor’s birthday in October

Thanksgiving in November

Christmas in December

New Years in January.

Valentine’s Day in February.

It felt like months full of such joy.

And now we have what feels like six months where we just want to hide until it’s all over.

Now, after the holiday months, we remember the day Eleanor left for heaven. The always dreaded March. I can’t even say the month anymore.

It’s hard when you watch everyone around you celebrating the happiest time of the year. The season that’s all about family, all about being together, all about celebration.

As we watch it from the background feeling utterly broken. Feeling hopeless. Feeling the gaping hole in our hearts more evident with each holiday that passes without her.

We sit down for holiday meals and stare at the one empty seat at our table. The seat where she should be.

And I’m reminded of 1 Peter 1:5-9. It has become something I often turn back to. It says, “You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith – more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Christ Jesus. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.”

If we let them, trials can produce exactly what we didn’t know we needed.

First, trials progress our faith deeper. Our faith is tested in the fire. I heard on a podcast the other day that a faith that has not been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. The bible tells us that our faith is more precious than gold. Gold is the currency of heaven and the enemy, knowing this, is always after our faith. The bible also tells us that in our various trials is where the proven character of our faith is developed.

Secondly, trials purify our hearts. Gold is purified by fire. Gold’s impurities are invisible from the outside. The gold has to be held over intense fire so that the hidden imperfections rise to the surface. The hotter the fire, the more impurities that are burnt off, and the more precious the gold becomes. Trials bring to the surface the areas of our life where we trust God the least. Sometimes we don’t know what is inside of us until we experience the heat of the fire. Our own impurities, our insecurities, our flaws become visible so that God can remove them.

Third, trials point out that this world is not our home. Trials can make us even more expectant about our eternal home. Trials can break our attachment that we have to this earthly world and all of its possessions. Our pain, even though it feels like it will never end, is only a moment in eternity. Our trials, whatever they are, only last a little while in light of eternity. This longing we have is because we know that life was not supposed to be this way.

One of my favorite quotes, from C.S. Lewis says, “The fact that our heart years for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.”

Forth, trials can often publicly proclaim where we have misplaced our hope. Putting our hope in people, in possessions, in status, in things, will always leave us feeling let down. People will always come up short. That status will never be high enough. We won’t ever possess enough material things. None of these will deliver us hope. When you are walking through a trial, you are being given the opportunity to rediscover who your anchor to hope is.

Our hope is not placed in our circumstance, our hope is placed in Christ alone.

Jesus is the only one that is faithful. Jesus is the only one who remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus is the only one that is the one true anchor to hope.

When we are anchored to hope through Jesus, we won’t drift, even when battling the middle of a storm. We won’t be anchored to doubt. We won’t be anchored to fear. We won’t be anchored to insecurity, to despair, to bitterness. We will remine anchored to hope.

Even through the fire of our trials, we can remain hope filled because of the promise of God.

Lastly, trials can position our perspective. Colossians 3:2 tells us, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” If your mind is set on what trial you are currently facing, on how painful it is, on how fearful you are to continue pressing on, you are missing out on the purpose of the trial.

You must consciously make the choice to elevate your mindset above all the noise of this earth. You must choose to set your sight on things above.

Your perspective during a trial determines the impact that trial will have on you. Your perspective can indeed change, even when the circumstances surrounding you can’t.

Most of this life has to do with your mindset. With what kind of perspective you hold. There are the same things that can happen to different people and how those people respond differently to those same things determines how they navigate their circumstance.

This life is just a little while. It feels like it will be forever. It feels like the pain will last forever. It feels like the grief won’t ever cease. But while we are here on this earth, it is just a little while.

This is the hardest trial we have ever had to navigate. It is painful beyond what anyone should ever have to bear.

But in that, it is also such an honor to carry. God choose us. He trusted us to carry this trial. And in that, we must remind ourselves to trust in Him. To trust that He will bring us through the fire. To trust that we are being refined, that our faith will come out of the fire stronger and more precious than gold.

God is building you in the fire. Your work is not done in vain. He chose you for this specific moment, for this specific trial, to bring about a sense of hope. To build in you spiritual endurance.

Your trial is not a time to give up. It is a time to lean into Jesus and what He is revealing in you.


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