After downloading a trial copy of software recently, I was directed to some helps in getting the most out of my trial program. It struck me as being a bit oddly worded—but then again, English is known for leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. Maybe it should have read, “Make the most of your trial software.” Be that as it may, it made me think along different lines.
Here we are at the doorway to a new year, with all of its unknowns before us. While we can be assured of God’s continual presence in our lives throughout the year, we cannot know whether 2014 will be a year characterized by sorrow or joy, bane or blessing, failure or success. It is almost certain that there will be trials along the way whether great or small. The question is how can we make the most of our trials?
More than one hymnwriter has suggested that it is to our benefit to recognize first of all that whatever comes our way arrives under the providence of God. “Every joy or trial,” wrote Frances Havergal, “Falleth from above/Traced upon our dial/By the Sun of Love.” While of some comfort, that may not be enough to help us “make the most of our trial.”
While it may be difficult, it seems that the writer of the Book of Hebrews is urging us to embrace our trials as God’s means of maturing us. The best of human fathers corrects his children as he sees fit for this purpose. God, our Perfect Father, disciplines us to make us holy. “For they [our human fathers] indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He [our Heavenly Father] for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10 NKJV
Those who have suffered, sometimes through their own bad choices, can testify to the truth of 1 Peter 4:1b-2: “He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
While the greatest example of innocent suffering is the Lord Jesus himself, we can also benefit by taking to heart these words uttered by Job in the Old Testament: “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Another hymnwriter has penned these words:
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
How Firm a Foundation, vs. 3-4
While software developers want me to get the most out of their products, God wants me to get the most out of my trials—a closeness to Him that would not be possible otherwise. At least that’s the way I see it. What do you say?