A few Sundays ago I shared a message with one of our churches here in the Philippines. The message was entitled, “The Purpose of Trials.” At the beginning of the message I asked those in the congregation if they had ever experienced a trial that was so difficult for them; a problem in which they had almost lost hope. At an afternoon service at a different church, this was also the topic of discussion. It was interesting to hear the responses of my Filipino friends.
One lady shared that she had been married twice and that both of her husbands had been shot and killed by other people. The lady had actually witnessed both of the shooting deaths! Another lady told of the time when she had a large tumor and it seemed hopeless that she would get better. The daughter of that lady shared about how she thought her mother would die.
Trials and troubles are almost like a built in part of our life in this world. Everyone reading this column has experienced a variety of trials and difficulties. Some of the things that you have faced would even be considered overwhelming. It is very likely that some of you have faced “no hope situations” in which it appeared there was no solution or help to be found. Some of you probably feel that your whole life is one series of problems. You have one problem and when that is taken care of then another problem comes along.
Why do we face trials and difficulties? Does God have a purpose in them? In the Bible we get a little insight about why God at times allows us to face various trials and difficulties. In II Corinthians 1:8-10 we read the following concerning the Apostle Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9) indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10) who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.”
Paul and his companions faced some type of incredibly difficult situation. They even thought that they might die. You might say that it was an almost hopeless situation. But then Paul mentions why the trial happened. In the last part of verse 9 is says; “….so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” I like the way another translation puts it, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The purpose of this incredible difficulty that they faced was to keep them from trusting in themselves and to cause them to trust in God.
Friends, it is so easy to become self confident. It is so easy to trust in our own abilities and resources. It is so easy to be dependent on our own wisdom. But folks, God doesn’t want us to have “self-trust.” He desires us to have “God-trust.” And sometimes the only way God can get us to fully trust in Him is to allow things to take place in our lives that cause us to feel almost hopeless. When we are hopeless, then there is only one place to look and that is to God.
I challenge you to look at trials as a tool of God that will cause you to trust Him more and more. Brothers and sisters, trusting in God fully is the best place to be and He will never let us down. Amen!