Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Trials, tribulations and tests in this life....

Trials, tribulations and tests in this life - How do you respond when you are being tested or going through a trial?  Do you rebel?  Resist?  Become obstinate and/or stubborn?  Do you withdraw or isolate yourself and try to "fix it" yourself?  Or, do you have the grace to allow yourself to learn from the trial, the suffering, or the test?

What does "going through a trial" really mean?  Yes, in a court of law it means attending the court dates to resolve an issue or lawsuit.  But what about the type of trial we endure on a personal basis?  Can being subjected to a hardship or going through a lengthy period of suffering be considered a "trial" in today's world?  By the dictionary definition, a trial can be a process, a hardship, suffering, an annoyance, or a time of testing.  Sometimes, that testing seems to linger or remain in our lives for a extended period of time - usually longer than we would choose to have if it was up to us to decide the length of time!  And, these times are usually not our favorite times or seasons in our lives.

Many times, how we react is usually based on years of experience in a certain family style or environment as we grow and learn from those around us.  The older I get, the more I realize I have a choice of how I react or respond in a given situation.  We can all learn how to "respond" rather than "react" if we choose to do so.  I grew up in a very emotionally charged home - good and bad emotions flowed freely!  We loved each other deeply, laughed, giggled, enjoyed wonderful family times yet fought like cats and dogs some days - we grew up showing our emotions and that was normal in our family.  Other families rarely show emotions or do not show emotions at all.  Mixing two families that are polar-opposite can be a real "test" in a marriage or a relationship.  Take a peek at your own personal or family history and compare it with another person you love or are acquainted with - is there a difference in how you respond or react to other people you know?  If so, how?  Notice those differences and ask yourself this question:

What if we used this knowledge to learn more about ourselves?  And, what if we applied that knowledge to those times of "testing" in our lives - would we choose differently based on new information?  Could we choose differently?  Absolutely!!!  Choosing to respond in love and/or kindness instead of reacting with anger/hurt is always a choice we can make!  Going through a trial or period of testing can also allow us to change how we respond versus react.  We can learn to intentionally respond in a positive fashion.  We can choose to learn from our mistakes.  We can benefit from some of the most tragic experiences.  If we choose to do so....

Believe it or not, there is an advantage to going through a painful process.  God can use challenges, tragedies, diseases and many other difficulties to strengthen and purify us.  Have you ever looked back on a difficult time in your life and said:  "It was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish."  Or, "I learned so much through that trial."  Many gifts can come from what we think are disasters or tragedies in our lives:  strength, endurance, patience,  awareness, deeper faith, wisdom, knowledge, and/or stronger convictions.  Some of the most painful times or situations we endure, can help us become a better person.  Or perhaps, the lesson presents itself so that we become aware of something we need to change.  We may very well be called to learn something new from an extremely difficult challenge.  We can grow and change in ways we never dreamed possible if we can open ourselves up to the lesson(s) that God is trying to teach us or how He is trying to get our attention.

This life offers challenges that are beyond comprehension sometimes.  Why not look up and see what God is trying to teach you through it all?

James 1:2 says:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Pure joy in trials?  Are you crazy?  I used to think so.  Now, I realize how much God has changed my  mind, my life, and my heart through some of the worst times in my life.  It was for my benefit that He used various times of testing to purify me, change me, mold me and make me truly His.  And, for that, I am truly grateful.  How about you???