A year ago at a beach trip a young man was asked which Bible character would he want to meet and why? The young man did not miss a beat in his reply as he stated with a quiet conviction – Job. His reason clung in the air with all gravity and held the listeners ‘I want to know if it still hurt after God gave him back what was lost.’
Loss, devastation, grief, pain- as a Christian these states are not avoidable realities, but eved present actualities. They were promised, they are part of the Christian stimulus package. The only demarcation between us and the world is that at the end of each trial if we endure we find that what we gain fills us with insurmountable gratitude and stronger faith if we submit to the process.
I was reminded of this truth one evening as I sat in a Bible study and listened to a man of God describe the pain from the loss of his first child. He described how surreal it was, the confusion of why it all happened and the hole in his heart at the time.
Following this was a gentleman who spoke candidly of being stripped of everything – money, relationships, job, and status being so low that he didn’t know when His next meal would be.
As I looked around at these faces what stood out to me was that what I saw was not sadness, or depression. What I saw was quite the opposite. These faces had joy, peace and hope. I sat in a room of persons rejoicing that God was by our side and faithful to His promises even in the midst of pain. Even as they described hardships and heart ache they also were sharing about how God came through during those hard times and how grateful they were even for the pain. They were at the place where they understood that these trials were actually a testament of the goodness of God.
In the trials we learn that God is loving. Loving, not because He kept us from every danger and disappointment, but loving in that He gave us the grace to endure through each devastation. We see that He is faithful to use each of these heart wrenching devastating times for our benefit, bringing us closer to Him, instilling trust in Him and reinforcing our faith. But most of all we see that He is Sovereign, intentionally moving in each situation.
In Russell Kelfer’s poem Wait from his book Wait: A Journey to Discovering the Heart of God, he pens this response from God explaining what we would lack if we didn’t go through tests.
If you don’t go through..
“You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You’d not know the power I give to the faint;
You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me; When darkness and silence were all you could see.
You’d never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You’d know that I give and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have last.
You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’”
It is because of our trials that we know our Father better. Though we are refined by fire, it makes us pure as gold. When gold, He continues the process as He cuts to bring shape and definition through the details.
Does it hurt? Yes! Do we cry? definitely! But as we endure by His grace, the Word and the support of body of Christ we come out at the end thankful for those tears.