Until a few years ago, I had not experienced much suffering in my life. I didn’t have to look for blessings in disguise; my blessings paraded themselves rather boldly.
I remember feeling on many occasions like I was living a “charmed” life. Inexplicably, I was spared any major trials at all. And I was lavished with numerous blessings.
It felt unfair. I saw people all around me experiencing trials; many of those people were walking through multiple fires at one time. But I was completely untouched. I didn’t know why.
It also felt scary. I knew everyone experienced trials. The Bible says that in this world His followers will have tribulation. Where was mine?
What was it going to look like?
How would I handle it?
How painful would it be, exactly?
I knew my turn was coming. I just didn’t know when. And I kind of felt like I deserved an extra dose or two because of my previously unscathed life. When that proverbial “other shoe dropped,” I was certain it would appear in the form of a huge steel-toed workboot…or maybe a 5-inch stiletto heel.
But ever since 2013…
I don’t claim to know all of suffering, but I now know it in part. In many ways, it was the hardest year of my life.
On the other hand, I can tell you with all truth and sincerity it was also one of the most joyful years of my life. Because of many blessings in disguise.
The Supreme Blessing in Every Trial
By far, the best of these blessings was the joy of God’s presence. God is always with me; I’ve never doubted that. But during my season of trials, I felt it more keenly and exulted in it more joyously than ever before.
I think this is partly because through suffering, God revealed idols I had been embracing. Good gifts I was adoring, instead of worshipping the Giver. Things like health, status, income, and friendships.
Things I didn’t mean to grow attached to; it just…happened. And when those things went alway, God revealed to me just how dependent on them I had become.
Things I had clung to, hoping and praying that when those inevitable trials came, I would be allowed to keep clutching them.
But God loves me more than that.
He loves me more than to allow me to continue clinging desperately to gifts, growing more and more attached to them, when I can embrace the Giver Himself.
He loves me more than to allow me to cling to substitutes for Him.
He wants me to have the real thing. He died so I could have the real thing.
And so, He pried my grasping fingers from the substitutes, and then held my hand in His own. And when I began to realize just how idolatrous my heart had become, and allowed His conviction to bring about repentance…well, that changed everything.
Because then He turned my unfaithful heart back to Himself. And I began to encounter Him once again. Which is what I needed all along, with or without the trials.
So what now?
Following an intense season of trials and such vivid reminders of God’s love, I’m left with overwhelming joy and gratitude that my God loves me so much that He won’t allow anything in the way of our love relationship.
I am thankful for the trials I faced that year, and for the ones I’ve faced since. As I’ve grown to know Him more and love Him better, I can tell you with certainty that it has been beyond worth it.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss
because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish,
in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…”
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How have you experienced Christ’s presence in the midst of a trial? I would love for you to take a moment and encourage me and other readers by leaving your testimony below.