By Joe Slater
Trials, especially severe ones, tempt us to doubt God. “If God exists, and if He really is good, then why does He permit pain and suffering?” But does God’s goodness require that our lives be a bed of rose petals?
Through Moses the Lord told His people Israel, “You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
The Israelites needed to suffer hunger to know the source of their blessings and to learn that satisfying one’s physical hunger isn’t the main purpose of life! Living by God’s word surpasses filling the stomach with food. What kind of parents would just give their children everything they want with no conditions or expectations?
Such children would become soft, flabby, lazy, self-centered, and entitled. (Just look around! We’re reaping a bitter harvest!) Children need to be tested, challenged, and made to endure difficulty so they mature into responsible, realistic adults.
It’s no different with God’s children. Though we may not enjoy it, we benefit from experiencing trials. Think of Joseph in Egypt; think of Daniel and his friends in Babylon. Most of all, think Jesus, “the captain of (our) salvation,” who was made “perfect (complete) through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10).
Let us learn to see God’s hand in trials!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com