Most people want to avoid troubles, trials and tribulations, but God allows them, so how does God use trials and troubles to learn how to trust Him?
Piles of Trials
Most people want to avoid troubles, trials and tribulations, but God allows them for His purposes, so how does God use trials and troubles to help us learn how to trust Him? Why would anybody want to have a trial? Most of us naturally try to avoid pain and suffering, but God actually sees the good that comes out of these things in our life (Rom 8:28). Trials are painful; trials are challenging, and we are all, creatures of pleasure, meaning we gravitate towards things that feel good, and typically run away from things that cause pain. The challenge for us is to look at these problems as a blessing to be found within the trial. One song says we can face piles of trials with smiles.
Footprints in the Sand
The story of the Footprints in the Sand involves a person who chose Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and he saw his life as a journey…a pilgrimage; walking with Jesus day by day. He was walking through the sand, and since he is walking with Jesus Christ, there are two sets of footprints; his footprints and Jesus Christ’s. However, a little later he looks back and notices that when bad things were happening in his life, there were only one set of footprints. That’s when he asked Jesus, “Why is it that when I’m going through challenges, instead of you walking with me, I only see one set of footprints in the sand?” Jesus said, “When you were going through those challenges, I was the one carrying you and that’s why you only see one set of footprints.” At times, we may not even know Jesus is helping us.
Trust In Jesus
The benefit of any trial, as painful as it may be, is it allows us an opportunity to trust in Jesus more. Each time we come through a dark night of the soul, our faith is strengthened because Jesus was with us the whole time, so our faith is somewhat like film; it’s best developed in the dark. We must learn to look at God as bigger than our problems. Whatever we’re confronting, whatever hurdle we’re trying to overcome, the power of the Being that spoke the universe into existence is with us, if we would only allow Him to display His power in our weakness. In other words, our relationship with Jesus Christ must take precedence over the pain, the challenge, the shame, and the humiliation that we may be facing. We all go through challenges. We live in a fallen world. Challenges come with the package of being alive, however, when we’re going through these painful chapters of the story of our lives, we begin to learn to trust Him more.
The good news doesn’t end there. It’s not just a question of relying on Jesus’ strength to push us through and carry us through the difficult times. The Footprints in the Sand is about something more. Jesus, while carrying you through, changes you too. The bigger victory of some trial or trouble gives us more confidence to face the future. When Jesus is carrying you, and you’re living through those challenges, he is changing your character, so give Him permission to carry you. Give Him permission to change you as you and Christ go through this storm.
Nothing without Him
Jesus told the disciples, and by extension He tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This simple truth is we can’t bear fruits of the Holy Spirit without God’s help. This is why Jesus said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). No fruit was ever produced by any plant apart from the vine.
God of the Storm
God is sovereign over the storm and the God that allowed the storm also uses it to steer the rudder of our life. The reason for that is so that He will steer our storm-tossed ship right into a safe harbor. He is not only the Captain of the Ship, as Creator, He is sovereign over the storm. We know that Jesus can calm the storm because He was the One Who created all things (John 1:3). When the disciples were in a terrible storm on the sea and their boat was in danger of sinking, “they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24). Jesus, as God, can rebuke the wind, the waves and they must obey, and the storm must cease. The God of the Storm is the God we can trust in the storm, but notice it was Jesus’ will to send them into the storm!
Calm before the Storm
I live in tornado alley in Kansas and I’ve been in a few tornadoes in my life and noticed that just before the twisters are nearing, there is an eerie calm. The birds stop singing. The wind ceases, and it’s ominously quite; but then suddenly, it all breaks loose. Every Christian is in one of these three situations; they’ve just came out of a storm, they’re presently in a storm, or they’re heading onto one. What is pleasing to God is when we praise Him as much in the storm as we do in the calm before the storm.
A Storms Coming
If you’re not in a storm right now, you might as well prepare for one. How do you do that? Gird up the loins of your mind be being steeped in the Word of God, every day, day and night. Every believer is destined to pass through storms in life so it’s only a matter time; not if but when. We shouldn’t be surprised when they do come because they come for all. Once Jesus sent the disciples off in a boat, knowing a storm was approaching, but this gave God an opportunity to be glorified as Jesus rebuked the storm (Luke 8:24). He can do the same for yours.
In a Storm
While you’re in a storm, all you can do is pray to the God Who is sovereign over the storm. The storm can do nothing that God doesn’t allow and He can use evil for His own good purposes (Gen 50:20). When Joseph was thrown into prison twice, he trusted God in both circumstances, and it said of Joseph, time and again, “And the Lord was with Joseph” (Gen 39:21). Yes, the Lord was with Joseph, even in prison.
In the Calm
It’s so easy to forget about praying when things are going well, but this is exactly the time to be praying…in case another storm is headed your way, and we never know when they’re going to it. We need God as much during the calm as we do in the storm because we don’t know what’s coming around the blind corners of time. God alone knows what’s coming, and that should give us comfort. He is never surprised. .
The Apostle Paul writes that we should “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18). God’s will is not some mysterious puzzle you must figure out. There are clear Scriptures that tell us what the will of God is and we know for sure that we should give thanks for all things, and that includes the good and the good times and the bad times (Rom 8:28). They are all working a great purpose in us, or God wouldn’t allow them.
Here is some related reading for you: How to Endure the Trials of Life 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.