Do not be surprised, dear friends at the painful trials you are now suffering as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Pe 4:12
Life is plagued with trials. They are inescapable—there is not one being immune to the inevitability of hardship. For centuries humans have sought of means of relieving themselves of trials, but to no avail. A life free of burdens is no life—it is simply a dream or fantasy that each person at his core can attest is a hoax. Though unpleasant, trials are always good and always intentional. They are a test of one’s character, one’s devotion, and one’s will. God employs trials to his end as a sign of his glory to overcome and to our benefit as proof of our commitment and perseverance-pass or fail.
Having endured a multitude of health problems, heartache from broken relationships and difficult and confusing life circumstances, I find physical trials easiest to bear. I believe there is much truth to the proverb “A man’s spirit will endure sickness ,but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Pro 18:14) There is a sense of joy in being filled with Christ that supersedes physical illness, weakness, and brokenness; it never takes the pain away, but makes the endurance worthwhile.
Emotional trials are more difficult. Betrayal by a close friend, being made a mockery, and struggling through depression is draining at best and crippling at worst. There is a vulnerability in relationships that allows for the possibility of great joy, but also great heartache. Hope disappointed can be crushing.
But by & large, the worst trials of all are spiritual—the ones that get at the guts of life, that core of what life is worth, the inner longing of the soul. To feel distance from the love of your life (Habakkuk 1:1), to see the weight of sin (Psalm 51:3), and to know the darkness of this present age is a tortuous burden to bear.
And yet there is one who suffered every type of trial on of the most difficult of levels. There is one who endured the worst physical pain inflicted, the deepest emotional grief ever to be felt, and the most agonizing spiritual separation that has ever been known. And he is where my hope lies—not just because he conquered and defeated it, but because he endured it and lived it. My God does not call me to conquer victoriously each and every trial; his love for me is not based on a tally of wins & losses. His joy is derived from the struggle to obey and longing to persevere. God founded a people whose name means to wrestle with God and his judgment is based on the victory he has already attained, in a place free of burden, weight, and pressure, and filled with joy which surpasses all understanding.
“I greatly feared lest through stupidity and carelessness I should lose the benefit of these trials…..It is good for me to be afflicted that I may die to this world and all that is in it.” –David Braniard