Monday, July 11, 2011

Trials Have Purpose

The land lay before them. The promised land. After years spent in the wilderness, their dream was about to come true. I can imagine the Israelites counting down the days until the spies would return with news about the land that would become their territory.

The day finally arrived. Everyone assembled to hear the report. Children jostled about, in an attempt to see what the twelve men had brought back from Canaan. A hush fell over the crowd. Mouths gaped open in amazement. Before them hung the largest cluster of grapes they had ever seen! So large, that the grapes required two men to carry them on a large pole (Numbers 13:23). An abundance of pomegranates and figs lay before them - fruit from the land the Lord intended for them to inherit. What a promising future lay ahead!

The spies spoke of the land they had explored over the past forty days, "...We came unto the land whither thou sentest, us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it," (Numbers 13:27; KJV). The land sounded too good to be true. But as the report continued, the tone changed from positive to negative. "Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there," (Numbers 13:28).

By the end of the report, only two of the twelve spies maintained a positive outlook on taking over the promised land. Joshua and Caleb. These two had faith that the Lord, who had brought the children of Israel this far, could also deliver the promised land to them, despite the obstacles.

The crowd chose the majority opinion. They refused to exercise faith in the God who had delivered them from their oppressors in Egypt, provided food and water for them in the wilderness, and been their constant guide from the beginning of their journey. Instead, they chose to believe the situation was hopeless and began making plans to elect a captain to lead them back to Egypt.

Imagine journeying to the border of the promised land, only to stop trusting the One who had brought you every step of the way. Inconceivable, right? Yet, if I'm honest, I have to admit that I've done the very same thing.

When I'm faced with a trial in my life, I have the opportunity to trust God to walk me through the difficulties. But instead, I grow fearful, and choose to believe that God doesn't have my best interests at heart. I begin thinking about how good things have been. And question God as to why this trial had to come my way. I lose sight of my great God and begin having a pity party in honor of myself.

The words of the book of James point me back to the truth, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," (James 1:2-4). Although I can't say that trials are pleasant, each and every one is allowed in my life to draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. It's up to me to allow each trial to become a blessing as I'm conformed to the image of Christ!

How do you face trials? Is your faith growing with each difficulty that comes your way?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the trials You allow in my life. Help me choose to believe that Your plan for me is good, and to act in faith when difficulties tempt me to doubt. Help me to be conformed to the image of Your Son. In Jesus' name, Amen.


  1. I face some trials in better shape than others, but am always grateful for what I learn when I consider the "big picture". Thanks for the encouragement! :)

  2. I do have a tendency to withdraw... but I know from scripture that trials are there to shape me and that I should rejoice... this is not always easy, but afterwards we always see why, right?!

  3. I watch Joyce Meyer as often as I can. One of her messages which has stuck with me said something along the lines of, "The attitude you have while you’re in the wilderness determines how long you stay there. Complain and remain. Praise and you will be raised."

    Meyer also went on to note the difference between explaining and complaining. We need to explain to people our thoughts and reactions, and trust that God will see us through. Complaining is more akin to harping, and shows a distrustful attitude.

    It's hard not to have a pity party when negative events present themselves. But your reference to James rings true.

    Thank you for the reminder that trials do serve a beneficial purpose!

  4. Maria,
    Your blog articles are so refreshing. I was JUST discussing this very story with my girls YESTERDAY! Okay, God, I'm listening.

    We talked about the fact that Rahab's husband Salmon (in the lineage of Christ from Matthew) was likely a child when the spies returned, or he was born in the desert. They wanted to know how I knew that and I explained that God made sure all of the disbelief died off before bringing His people into their new home.

    That's the lesson for me. Right now. My doubts about His leading in ALL the areas of my life must die away so that He can move me forward.

  5. How ironic that i just prayed about this! I feel so guilty when i dont trust God as i should with the trials in my life. I have such doubt and fear about one aspect of my life and i don't know why i worry about that which i have no control over. But my doubt and anxiety bring me closer to doubt about that!

  6. Karen - Sometimes it's a real challenge to stay focused on that big picture. The here and now is offering up so much drama that the big picture is all but obscured. I'm reading a book by my friend, Cherie Hill, entitled, Be Still. She makes some great observations,"Through God's Word, we are assured that He can calm the 'external' storm; but, the storm He really wants to calm is the one inside of you - the 'internal' storm...When you learn how to calm the storm within, through your faith in God, the wind and the waves may be threatening to take you under, but you will find yourself in the eye of the peace." Words worth applying! Have a wonderful day! God bless!

  7. Marja - You're right! It's in looking back after a trial that we see the reason for it, and can identify the growth that's taken place. An unshakable trust God in the midst of difficult circumstances is what He's after for each and every one of us! It's good to be aware that the trials WILL come. We can know that God has our best interests at heart and trust Him to grow our faith. Have a beautiful week! God bless you, my friend! :)

  8. Janette - Thanks for your insight! Love the statements, "Complain and remain. Praise and you will be raised." That's great advice! Seeing the blessings brought about as a result of trials is a testimony to the fact that they have the greatest potential to strengthen our faith. I must admit that I'm still working on that second verse of James chapter one, "Consider it all joy..." Have a great week! God bless you!

  9. Beautiful post, Maria! Looking back on trials in my life, I certainly recognize the blessings God has brought me through them, but it's sure hard to see that at the time you're going through them. I have learned from past experience and trust more in God's presence and working things out for the best now.

  10. Marji - Love it when that happens! Having something reaffirmed a few times over the course of a couple days usually gets my attention! Thanks for sharing the lesson that God is teaching you, "My doubts about His leading in ALL the areas of my life must die away so that He can move me forward." Wow! This is one I definitely need to apply. I think you need to write a blog post about it!! Appreciate your wisdom and insight, girl! God bless you richly!

  11. KC - Love hearing how God is working in your life! I've definitely faced the same thing you mention - worrying about things I have no control over. I'm so thankful for Ephesians 4:6-7 that says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." It's wonderful to know that He's Sovereign and is the One who controls it all. Trials have the ability to bring me one step closer to embracing this truth. Have a fantastic week full of His blessings!

  12. Connie - Great to see you! I agree, it IS difficult to see the blessings that will come as a result of the trial, when you're in the midst of it. How ironic that the most important of the blessings that comes as a result of a trial is faith - the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. My friend, Cherie Hill, in her book, Be Still, puts it rather well, "God wants you in the back of the boat with Jesus - a place of peace and rest. He wants you to 'be still;' yet, we find that 'being still,' requires action - it demands our faith." Have a wonderful week experiencing His peace!