The Formative Power of Trials

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you

                                    1 Peter 5:10

 

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

                                    James 1:2-4

 

As I was listening to the story of Joseph from a bible study app, I was struck by how positive Joseph had seemed, despite all of the things that had happened to him: sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and subsequently thrown into prison, forgotten by Pharaoh’s baker and wine steward after having successfully interpreted their dreams, languishing there until Pharaoh has a need to have his dreams interpreted. I mean, if anyone had a reason to be down, it was Joseph—right? This young man went from being his father’s favorite child and in charge of his father’s flocks to a prison in a far away land, all through no fault of his own. His life was a figurative sine wave, as experience after experience happened to him, starting on a high note and bringing him down (sold into slavery), then up (overseer of Potiphar’s house), and again down (falsely accused and imprisoned), and up again (overseer of Egypt, second in power to Pharaoh). It would have been easy for us to understand if he’d gotten frustrated, or become angry, or at least stamped his foot and said, “Come on!! You’ve got to be kidding me. I helped those two goons and they couldn’t even remember me to Pharaoh like I asked?” (I can’t imagine having any other reaction than that).

 

But yet we know that Joseph had faith, and had a relationship with the Lord. His rebuke of Potiphar’s wife demonstrates the extent of his walk with God: “…There is no greater in this house than I, nor has he [Potiphar] kept anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Moses records in two separate occasions in Genesis 39 that the Lord was with Joseph, and caused Joseph to prosper, despite the circumstances he was in.

O, to be like Joseph in our trials! It’s one thing to get to the point in our spiritual maturity where we can tell folks that we know that the Lord is in whatever trial we are enduring at the moment, and to pray for the insight afterward to be able to understand why we had to go through what we had to go through. And some of us are there; some of us, not so much, but we are all works in progress

 

But it’s another thing to actively participate with the Lord in the midst of our very trials—to face things as they come with Him, knowing that He is with us, each and every step of the way. We still may not know until much later the reason for the trial (if at all), but to partake in the shaping and the pruning instead of merely enduring—what a joyous opportunity! What a blessing it is to not just passively let the tribulation happen to you, but to acknowledge and accept its transforming power, knowing (as Paul tell us in Romans 5) that it will produce perseverance, which will the produce character, which will produce hope.

 

The Lord has put it on my heart lately that there are lessons in all things, and that it’s not just enough to chalk trials up to things that we simply endure and wait for them to be over. The Lord allows things to befall us (no, He does not cause trials), and as such, we must seek to understand what it is He wants us to learn from these lessons. We must go to Him in prayer, surrendering all to Him, and He will be faithful to provide, support, and answer.

 

Prayer Requests

  • Praise for Presbytery’s approval to declare Ray as Stated Supply—further support and evidence of God’s will for Ray to be our pastor
  • For the Holy Spirit to flood us with His presence and uplift us with His purpose
  • For children, both young and old, who are starting new chapters in their lives this school year, and for their families who support them
  • For those who are lost – may we be the light that Jesus calls us to be in this broken world

 

May it be said of us that we know, as Joseph knew, that the Lord is with us in all of our circumstances.

 

Quotes

 

“Anxiety blinds us to reality, and deafens us to God’s voice.” — Dave Radford

 

“What has the church gained if it is popular but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?”                                                                          –A.W. Tozer