“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” —Romans 5:3–5
Just as we are experiencing a global pandemic and its economic and societal impact, each one of us has known difficulties at various times throughout our life. Usually these trials dominate a day, or maybe a week. But there are other times when we encounter a crisis that is life altering. When that happens, we find ourselves walking through a valley so dark and deep we wonder if we will ever see sunshine again.
With every trial, we face the temptation to abandon God while the evil one whispers in our ear “Give up on God. After all, hasn’t he abandoned you?” But in reality, God is with us even in our darkest hours, regardless of what our emotions or demonic voices tell us. God knows what we are going through and reaches out his hand, not to save us from the situation but so we can walk through that valley with him.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”—Isaiah 43:2
Our loving God uses difficulty in our lives to burn away the sin of self and build faith and spiritual power.
Adversity looks a whole lot better when you see it through your rear-view mirror. It’s only when a crisis is far enough in your past that you can see the bigger picture and appreciate the good that God accomplished through pain and suffering.
God uses adversity as a tool to refine us and increase our capacity for greatness.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”—James 1:2–4
Perhaps the most difficult crises are the ones where we felt betrayed by those we trusted. God molds us and shapes us through trials. But when he has used others in the process, we can leave the valley shouldering bitterness toward them. As a result, in a sense, we imprison ourselves with unforgiveness.
Difficult life experiences shape us. Through those experiences, God allows us the opportunity to grow in our spiritual character so we reflect more of his values and strength. But it is our choice whether we allow that transformation to take place. If we harbor resentment toward God and others, we will leave the valley diminished instead of stronger.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” —Romans 8:28