What a disaster! How can I ever be happy again?
That’s the headline and lead paragraph to a story earlier in my life when as a CEO I was the subject of intense criticism.
What did I learn? What did God teach me? How did the experience change and shape my life? Let me tell you that story.
I learned that it is because of tribulation–not its absence–that we see and know God. In trying to clear up the trial quickly by asking God for a fast rescue, I lost the perspective on his divine mind and will. As I tried furiously to make the trial “go away,” God revealed a bigger and better plan. When I emerged from the pain, my faith had become more deeply rooted because I faced, endured, and beat the conflict. What a blessing.
I felt intense humility during the trial and pain process, but that emotion brought me closer to God while reflecting with amazement on his unending love for me. What an incredible feeling of exhilaration it was to feel the Father’s presence as his Spirit made these things as clear as a starry mountain sky.
Without this perspective and God’s supernatural insights, it would have been easy to consider stopping my faith journey and giving up. But I quickly realized that the reward for rejoicing and hanging on when life gets tough is God’s strength to endure the pain and his wisdom to learn something significant when it’s over that we can take forward to help others facing similar difficulties.
Finding God’s wisdom in circumstances like this takes strength, effort, and perseverance to be sure. But more than that, it takes an openness to seek out that wisdom in our discomfort. Looking back, I can see God’s promise that the more we suffer the more we’ll know him and be in a position to help others come to know him.
Of course we don’t look forward to or revel in the trials and tribulations of life. Rarely are we eager to “grow spiritually.” Nonetheless, God uses these points of pain inflection to build our faith and live a Christ-like, purpose-driven life.
“Enjoying” our life’s trials is obviously a stretch. Even so, there is no other perspective to take on this than that we are indeed fortunate to have trials and afflictions because they are the best way for us to learn what makes us complete in Christ. We might call it a “joyful pain.”
I learned this in the most powerful way when I came to realize that God can indeed fix this.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18