Life comes with ups and downs, trials and triumphs just as Jesus told us it would. (Jn.16:33) Peter tells us to not be surprised by these challenges (1 Pet.4:12) and James tells us to rejoice in these times (James 1:2). Romans 5 even shows us the process: trials lead to patience, which lead to experience, which lead to hope, which leads to the love of God being shown to others.
Which leads me to this question — are we growing in the midst of our trials? Are we pushing through, looking for that tiny hole to emerge from?
Experiencing difficult situations are an opportunity to see what’s in our hearts, what we really believe. If our faith isn’t tested, is it really faith? How can we say we truly “have faith” or believe in something if there’s not some form of assessment or verification? I believe if we take the posture of a learner and desire to grow in every circumstance, we will.
Years ago, freshly on the mission field in a small little town where the electricity wasn’t always on, having to wash my lettuce in bleach three times before eating it, and trying to learn a new language, I distinctly remember looking out our back window one day at the clothes hanging on the line as I washed dished. Feeling a bit discouraged at that moment and tired of this new lifestyle of living for Jesus, I pondered: “Do I really believe all of this?” ‘All of this’ being everything I’d believed about God and the Gospel. “What was I doing here and why? Was it all true or just something I’ve assumed for years?”
This was a huge test for me.
Fortunately, God revealed Himself and His love to me as I sought Him out. The trials I was experiencing led to hope and eventually a true peace and firm confidence in my God, Who He was, and why I was there. I’d found my tiny hole in the shell. I grew. My faith grew. And my love for God and others grew.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, there are tears sometimes. Yes, there may be losses, failures, and misunderstandings. But there’s also an occasion to develop and sprout. Find a way to get into the “Son” — read the Word, fellowship with others, meditate, journal, get counsel, repent, forgive.
Seek growth. Embrace the difficult challenges as opportunities. Lean on His love and emerge stronger in the power of His might. (Eph.6:10)