“Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees.”
— J.C. Ryle (1816–1900)
There’s a purpose in everything,
Yes, even in every trial,
In everything life would bring,
At this, there should be no denial.
Trials destine us to think,
To found us on the Lord,
On our knees to sink,
And to the Word most humbly adored.
These are the fourfold purposes of the trial in our midst:
1. To force us thinking creatures to think intentionally and productively; to actively problem solve; to engage our minds on something meaningful – to ward us away from unworthy pastimes of the mind; to edify ourselves with the ability to create our own solutions; to give us confidence that we can both get over our issues by innovation and get through them by patient endurance.
2. To broaden our felt perspectives of life by creating within us a spirituality that encapsulates the world and shrinks it. Being weaned from the world is more about accepting a larger worldview than removing ourselves physically from a world we cannot escape. When God is seen in all his glory, in the midst of the common life, then the world shrinks in comparison. This is something God will do for us, when we ask, when we begin to see with intention, beyond the semantics of life and into the surreal, the solemn, the stately, and the serendipity (just to name a few).
3. To get us to open our Bibles. When we open the Old Book, we notice it was written for a suffering people. We receive the empathy of God from the ancient text as soon as we meander through the lament psalms, the trials of Job, the despair of the teacher in Ecclesiastes, through the many stories of conquest and grief, unto the sufferings of Paul. These words minister to us in ways that no other text can. I know this by personal and wonderful experience; you may do, too.
4. To get us into prayer mode. Beyond every other help is the imploring of God through the sharing of our hearts before his mercy seat. There is something that God does in and through us, via prayer. As we express what is ‘secretly’ on our hearts, it is revealed nonetheless to us, ourselves, in ways that proves even more meaningful. God, who is in us, has us hear ourselves, and he ministers to us through our own surrender.
We are wise to do four things in our experience of personal trial: 1) think deeply; 2) broaden our perspective; 3) open our Bibles; and, 4) surrender our lament before God in prayer.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.