Trials come in a variety of ways, at various times, and with different pressure points. Some are relatively insignificant (a flat tire), while others are more impactful (a job layoff). I learn a lot about myself during trials, particularly from what comes from my heart. Often I become impatient and angry. I want the trial to end quickly and worry about the outcome. I usually ask the important question about trials too late, “what is the Lord trying to teach me?”
The book of James reminds believers why trials exist, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).” Trials are a tool in the Lord’s hand to grow the faith of believers. Yet, knowledge of that truth does not mean that our experience of trials will be easy.
Last Friday, I began a trial that is insignificant in the long term but is frustrating and disrupting in the short term. I decided to work from home to focus on catching up on work. In the morning, my internet was slow, and then all of a sudden went offline. I called my provider, and they sent someone out the next day. Unfortunately, he said that there was a more significant issue and a different crew would come out. Later that day, two large trucks came out to investigate the issue. Unfortunately, they discovered that the particular line going into my house was bad and that the connection was underneath the ground, so they would not be able to repair it. A third crew would be needed, but he did not know when they could schedule the work. I am still waiting for the repair as I write this.
Usually, when these types of inconveniences occur, I get really upset. I would call in and express my anger to a representative who usually can’t do anything but is trying to help. This time was different. In a brief moment of sanity, I recognized that I was not in control and just needed to be patient. Instead of worrying about the situation, I walked to the local Starbucks so I could have internet to attend a work meeting.
I usually think about those verses in James when I go through trials. I believe those verses can sometimes be misused in our lives. First, we are to count all things joyfully because we have a God who is in control, not because we are going through trials. He does not waste the trials in our lives but uses them for our good. In the trial, we do not see how it will grow our faith, but future trials reveal if that work is being done in our hearts. Lastly, I do not think we will ever get to a point where we do not struggle with trials, but we can grow and trust God’s grace to help us endure. I know that I have wasted far too much time becoming angry and impatient, which has not brought about anything good in my life except making me look like a fool (Proverbs 29:11). I am slowly learning to trust the Lord, and to see trials as something that helps me to grow, instead of something to avoid.