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Overcoming Adversity 101, Part 7: A Few More Reasons Why

God has permitted our specific trials for good, loving and precise reasons. Because He is sovereign and has power over all the circumstance of this life, God has the ability to permit and limit each trial that touches us. He lovingly screens each trial and permits only those that will accomplish His potential for our lives.

As each circumstance reaches us, not only has it been permitted by God, He has limited it as well. Hardships are not randomly unleashed upon us. Each microscopic detail has been filtered through God’s fingers of love.

We won’t know all of the things God is achieving through our trials till we reach our eternal home. The current view we have of our trials is much like looking at the bottom side of a tapestry. All we see is a disorganized mess. We might see one or two things that make sense, but they fall far short of a complete picture. Seen from above – from God’s end-of-time perspective – the tapestry is a gorgeous masterpiece…and so is the result of our hardships. Each trial specifically designed to create a final work of beauty!

We may not yet see in full the finished result of our trials, but through His word, God does let us in on a few of His reasons for allowing them.

1. To enable us to see His end-of-time perspective

God works through our trials to enable us to see life from his end-of-time perspective and to value what He values.

  • To value holiness above happiness:

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…Our father disciplined [trained] us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines [trains] us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline [training] seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:7-11).

  • To value eternal rewards (see Ro 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:17, Ja. 1:12; I Pe. 1:6-7).
  • To value His inward renewal no matter our outward circumstance (see 2 Cor. 4:16).
  • To see what is unseen — for that is eternal. (see 2 Cor. 4:18).
  • To set our heart, our affections, on things above. (Col. 3:1-4).

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

  • To value knowing Christ above all else – a value which comes when we see through God’s end-of-time perspective.

“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him” (Phil. 3:7-8, The Message).

2. As A Deposit in Our Future

Just as an employee who punches a time card is assured of a reward in return for his labor, every time you have a faithful response to suffering, a reward is accrued for you in Heaven.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

Suffering prepares us for eternity. (See also Ja. 1:12;  I Pe 1:6-7.) Suffering helps us get out of the way and allow God to produce things of lasting value through our lives.

When we respond faithfully (yieldedly) in our fiery trials, pride and self-interest are consumed. Through God-given brokenness, our motives are purified. Even something as small and seemingly insignificant as a motive determines our eternal reward – whether something is wood, hay, stubble or silver, gold and precious stones. (See I Cor. 3:10-15; Prov. 16:2.)

3. To Cause Us To Bear Fruit

The losses you have suffered have not been wasted. They have produced spiritual fruit!

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me. [Let’s follow Jesus.  Where is He going?  He is going to the cross] 27Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.”

4. To Refine and Prove Our Faith

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5, NASB).

The word in the Greek for “proven character” (or in the NIV, “character”) means “proof of genuineness.” In a similar way, ore is put into the refiner’s fire so that it may be “proven” – so that the impurities may be removed and the quality of it’s silver or gold revealed and purified. Dross can be removed and the value of the silver or gold increased. In a similar way, our faith is “proven.”

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver” (Ps. 66:10).

In As Silver Refined: Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments [affiliate link], Kay Arthur begins the book with a compelling description of the refiner, his bellows, the ore and the fire. She tells how the refiner carefully tends the temperature of the fire so that dross rises to the surface of the ore. The refiner skims off the dross and continues the long process of refining the silver. The fire must remain at the right temperature for the proper amount of time in order to achieve its result. The refiner tends the fire with great attention.

Eventually the silver is so pure that the refiner beams with joy as he sees his reflection in it. In a similar way, our trials burn away our flesh, prove our faith and Christ can see His image in us.

“Consider it pure joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith…” (James 1:2).

The Greek word for “testing” is a derivative of the Greek word used in Romans 5:4 for “proven character.” It means “proof,” putting something to the test and demonstrating that it’s genuine.

“Consider it pure joy my brothers when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…” (James 1:2).

The Greek word for “endurance” is the same as the word for “perseverance” in Romans 5:3 above. It is made up of two Greek words that mean “under” and “to abide.” In other words, to patiently bear up under the trial. Through the refining, the proving of our faith, God enables us to bear up under the trial. He infuses us with His character, His strength, His life!

James went on to say that perseverance, or endurance, must finish its work so that we might be mature and complete, not lacking anything (see v. 4).

I want God to continue His refining work, don’t you? I don’t want to see a tapestry half completed some day. I want to see a beautiful work of art displaying indisputable evidence of the victory we have in Christ!

“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory” (I Peter 1:6-7 The Message).

“To whom is God proving our faith,” you might ask? “To others? To myself?”

God does put Christ on display to others through our trials. However, when it comes to “proving” our faith, the priority is between us and Christ – especially when you think of it through the illustration of the refiner of silver. When the refiner knows the silver is pure is when he can see his image in it…not when others can see his image in the silver. It’s the refiner himself who knows when the silver is pure and genuine.

It’s not that God is proving our faith so much to others or to ourselves, but He is purifying us and conforming us to the image of His Son.

God works through our trials to prove our faith and cause us to know Him intimately. Through our sufferings, He prepares us for eternity (see Ja 1:12), teaches us to grow up, hate our sin and be firmly aware of where our citizenship lies. He instills in us His values. We treasure the things that are “real” versus the things of this temporal world that are not real and lasting.

5. To Put Christ on Display to Others

As mentioned above, God also works through our trials to put Christ on display to others.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

When we respond faithfully in our trails, Jesus is powerfully, contagiously displayed to others.

Out of all these great things God accomplishes in our trials, for me personally, the greatest result of my trials has been that God has drawn me into a deeper relationship with Himself. He has caused me to KNOW Him more intimately – to exist by His life and the power of His word. He has brought me to the end of every other resource, every other thing I have put my faith in – every other thing I use to cope and in which I have put my hope.  He wants to rid us of everything that is keeping us from existing by the life of Christ and the Word.

Questions:  What spiritual progress/results from your adversity are you most grateful for?

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