Christian and non-Christian alike will have their share of trials and tribulations in this world. After I gave birth to my second child, I went through a period of horrible depression and anxiety. I felt a great deal of fear concerning my future and whether this trial would ever pass. I felt buried in despair and couldn't see any way out. The anxiety brought on panic attacks and the worst part was I never knew when one might happen; driving down the road, shopping in a store or simply watching a movie made me feel anxious and the physical symptoms felt overwhelming. My chest would tighten and my head would spin. To top it all off, I felt like I was incased in depression. The only relief I had was in sleeping. I loved to sleep because fear and hopelessness was absent.
During this time I cried out to God morning, noon and night seeking answers. Where are You? Why won't You deliver me? What sin have I committed? I thought it would never end. I searched my Bible for answers and sought God in prayer for help. Slowly the anxiety subsided and the depression waned. Healing didn't happen immediately like I would have liked it, instead it was quite slowly. It took almost a year before I began seeing a change. Although it was a difficult time in my life, I wouldn't change it. It definitely served a purpose. In fact, it was during that time I discovered something: my deep need and appreciation for a God who is much larger than any problem I face. I found mediocre Christianity just won't due. Having a head-knowledge of who God is is simply not enough when you're going through a hard time. Trials tend to cut away at the complacency in our lives.
Paul said, "we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;" (Romans 5:3-4, NASB). I've discovered that ten times out of ten God is never in a hurry. When we pray and He doesn't answer immediately we feel He hasn't heard us, when in fact He has. The fact of the matter is, it is for our good to go through trials. There is something to be gained, and pain, many times, is the only effective tool.
In 2 Corinthians 13:7, Paul spoke of a thorn in his flesh "a messenger of Satan to torment me" were his words. What did he do under that trial? He did what any of us would do. He prayed for deliverance; however, that wasn't in the plan of God, or should I say in the way Paul expected. God's response was "My grace is sufficient for you" (v.9). Paul didn't get the response he wanted, although he did receive the response he "needed." God's grace surrounded Paul during his hardship, and Paul fully trusted God's sovereignty concerning what God allowed to happen in his life. He proved this by his continuance in his faith and preaching of Jesus.
Tribulations are intended to refine us. It's a time we must examine our lives and deal with the idols and lusts that are hindering us in our spiritual growth. We must persevere under the trials in our lives. It's through our trials that we gain the ability to wait patiently on God as we hope for His help. As hard as it seems when we're in the midst of a trial, count it all joy knowing that in the end it will produce only goodness in the lives of those who belong to Him.
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