by Kevin Burton
Back in the day at my school for the blind the Phys Ed teachers would create an obstacle course for us.
If memory serves, they timed us on how fast we could get through it.
We had various challenges. It might be climbing a rope, walking a balance beam or any number of things that would demand that you develop different physical skills.
Those of you have attended all or most of these classes at our Earthly School for the Spiritually Blind (ESSB) probably see where I am going with this!
God also puts us through an obstacle course of sorts in life, instead of letting us walk a smooth path from earth to Heaven.
The physical obstacle courses in high school were not my favorite. Life’s trials are definitely not my favorite. So why does God allow us to go through trials?
“All things” includes trials.
“If God ignites a storm in your life He has a definite purpose in mind,” agrees Dr. Charles Stanley, speaker on the radio and television ministry In Touch.
The purpose is to bring and keep us close to God and make us more like Jesus, as stated in Romans 8:29 (NASB) “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”
The Bible calls this sanctification.
Also, let’s be honest, if we had smooth sailing all the time, how much would we pray to God, draw near to God? Is it not true that your most fervent prayers come in times of high stress?
“God uses trials to turn my dependence fully on him. He wants me to cling to him and find peace in him alone,” writes Kyle Farran on the website of ABWE International, an organization that plants churches.
“The greatest battle that is waged each day for the glory of God is not the one around me, it is the one in me,” Farran writes. “My sinful heart doesn’t want to relinquish control. Trials are God’s tool to break my dependence on self so that I will trust in him alone.”
Furthermore, “Trials and weaknesses keep me from embezzling God’s glory,” Farran writes. “They make it clear that God alone deserves the recognition and honor.”
Trials, even little ones, make us better prepared to serve God, Farran writes.
“I want God to trust me with His big tasks, but God doesn’t give us the big tasks without testing us in the little things. Every trial God sends, even our daily frustrations are meant to test us and grow us stronger. If I want God to use me for big things, I must pass the little tests,” Farran writes.
Trials can be a signal that something is very right or very wrong in your life.
When I am relying on God, really listening and yielding my will to His, sometimes a trial will come as part of spiritual warfare. The enemy will not bother those who aren’t doing much to further the gospel.
At these times I have prayed, “I must be on to something Lord, please strengthen and protect me.”
At other times when I have allowed sin to remain, God may send a trial to let me know He wants that sin addressed and removed.
Your trial is an opportunity to earn eternal rewards Farran writes. “God entrusts me with trials as a gift. If I respond to the trials in faith and holiness, I can have joy in the fact that I am storing up rewards in heaven. If I respond to the trials with fear or complaining, I miss the opportunity for reward.”
“Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward,” reads the gotquestions website, quoting James 1: 2-4:
“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Class notes, ninth period, Spiritual Education (obstacle course):
One for the spiritual road: The headline for this story was “God’s Obstacle Course Makes Us Stronger.” In this, I define stronger as closer to God. I define weaker as further from God.