We often find ourselves in the valley of despair because God wants to reveal his nature to us but also because he wants to teach us things about ourselves.
“These [trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)
When you find yourself in the stormy trial:
1. You are in a place of wandering. You are in a place where you don’t know what your next step should be. You are not sure which direction God wants you to go. This can be a frightening place to be.
My father took me to his Uncle Tom’s house to hunt deer. It was my first deer hunting experience. I was only 12 years old. The snow began to fall gently. They set me up on a small hillside and attempted to drive the deer my way. But I got impatient. I became restless so I began to wander away sure I’d see a deer just over the next hill. The snow fell harder. It was near blizzard conditions. Darkness was approaching. I could hardly see. I had been wandering about for a couple hours when I saw tracks in the snow. I was so relieved. I would follow the tracks out of this dark and dreary valley. But the tracks were mine. I was going in circles.
I escaped that valley by climbing. I climbed to the top of the mountain and when I got to the top I could see my uncle’s house on the hillside across the valley. I made a beeline for safety.
When we are in a place of wandering it can become confusing. We can get disoriented. Our way can seem like the right way but until we choose God’s way we will only be traveling in circles. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” – (Proverbs 14:12)
2. You are in a place of waiting. Are you feeling the weight of circumstances over which you have no control? How often does God ask us to wait and waiting can be the hardest thing to do because it goes against our nature to want to rush forward.
I recently broke three bones in a motor cycle accident. After six weeks I went to the doctor for x-rays and an evaluation. I wanted to mow the lawn again and carry my grandchildren but he instructed me to hold off for another six weeks! Waiting is so hard to do but it is often necessary for total healing. The wounds of the heart are often healed with much passing of time.
There are great benefits to waiting: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – (Isaiah 40:31)
3. You are in a place of warfare. Your Christian faith glorifies God but it annoys and enrages Satan. If Satan can destroy your faith he can destroy your soul. Satan is battling for your eternal soul. If he can rob you of faith you become weak and vulnerable like Samson with his hair shorn off.
God allows the testing because he wants you to grow, to mature, he wants to sanctify you. He wants you to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.
I think most of the trials we suffer are to teach us humility and dependence on Him. The chief end of man is to bring glory to God and when we are too much in the way we can’t glorify God. Trials test our humility.
a. We fail the test of humility when we complain. How often do we find ourselves whining about the battle? We become ‘sunshine soldiers’ unwilling to endure the difficulties and discomforts of warfare. We sin when we gripe about things. We fail when we refuse to submit and humble ourselves before God.
There are seven things listed in the Book of Proverbs that are hated by God. The first listed is pride. God hates a proud heart. (Prov.6:16-19)
Pride is comparative. No one is proud because they have nice clothes, or a nice car or a nice house. We are proud because we have nicer clothes, a nicer car or a nicer house than someone else.
b. We fail the test of humility when we boast.
“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father…” (James 1:17)
God’s word to the people in the wilderness: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” (Deut. 8:2)
“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” – (Deut. 8:17-18)
We must learn to see God as the source of all things. But there is one more step he expects us to take. He also wants us to allow him to regulate what he has given us. “Thank you Lord for what I have, now, how do you want me to use it?” He gives us gifts for our enjoyment but he also gives us gifts to be used to bring glory to Him.