Charles Naylor, 1918
Daniel said, "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried" (chapter 12:10). All Christians are glad that they are purified and made white—but when it comes to being tried, that is a very different thing. They shrink from the very word. Their trials are to them as a nightmare from which they would gladly escape. But trials are a part of God's process of preparing us for Heaven, and they are as needful to us as is the blessing, in order that we may be prepared for our glorious eternal habitation.
The peaceful quiet waters soon lose their freshness and become stagnant; the clearness is soon gone, and they are filled with germs. Soon a green scum covers the top, and they become foul and odorous.
Quiet air becomes stagnant. The smoke, the dust, the odors, and the miasma rising from swamps and bogs would soon render quiet air unfit for breathing, and instead of being a life-giving tonic, it would become a life-destroying poison.
God has arranged the operation of natural forces so that there is unceasing motion.
The warm air rises—and the cold air falls. The gentle breezes blow, and swell into great gales and terrible hurricanes. These latter may be very destructive in their action, but they work out a good by purifying the air. They scatter the noxious poisons far and wide, and carry in pure air to take the place of these.
The waters of the sea are driven and tossed and dashed against the rocks. The sea is ever restless. Its waves are never still. No matter how calm the day, the ripples are ever breaking upon the shore. Were it not for motion, for the storms and currents—the whole ocean would become as stagnant as a pond.
The same thing is true in a large measure in our lives. The storms and obstacles all work out for out good if we meet them as we should. Through them our lives are enriched and ennobled and developed. They are blessings to us, though they may seem to be blessings very much disguised.
Sources of Trials
Many trials are only the natural result of circumstances. Sometimes circumstances are in our favor, and work for our happiness, peace, and contentment. Sometimes we have smooth sailing, and everything goes pleasantly. We are courageous and confident and rejoicing. The sun shines brightly out of a cloudless sky, and every prospect seems fair.
But this smooth sailing does not last forever. Sooner or later, the clouds must come and the storm-winds beat upon us. We must have the rough weather—as well as the pleasant weather; the storm—as well as the calm.
The sunshine and the calm are very needful in life, and they work out a definite purpose.
But the storms and the rain and the wind are likewise needed—and they also fulfill their purpose.
Trials will come—we cannot evade them. We may plan and build up hopes—only to have our air-castles come crashing down around our heads! If we have set our hearts upon these things, we are likely to be very disappointed upon their wreck ,and to feel very gloomy over the result.
If we permit ourselves to give way and grieve over the failure of our plans and hopes, we will make ourselves and those around us miserable. Sometimes people let go their hold on God, just because they do not get their way in things. They let disappointment so discourage them, that they just give up trying to do right. That is acting like a spoiled child.
If our plans and hopes fail, God will not fail. Sometimes it is a real blessing to us that our plans do fail; for God can plan far wiser for us than we can for ourselves, and we ourselves can act more wisely after we have failed than we did before. We should never fret on account of disappointments. If we do, they will only grow more rapidly, both in size and in intensity.
Losses may come to us—our property may be swept away or burned up. If we have our hearts set upon our possessions, this may touch a tender spot, and we may let it darken our lives and make us morose and dissatisfied.
Poverty may come and the many difficulties incident thereto. How greatly such things may try us will depend upon how much we rebel against the circumstances—or how easily we submit to and adapt ourselves to God's will. How greatly we are affected by our trials, depends on whether or not we sweetly submit to them.
Sickness may lay its heavy hand upon us or our loved ones, and try every fiber of our being. Sickness may play upon the chords of pain—a lamentation that incites with exquisite torture! Or it may fire our blood with fever until the sparkle has gone from the eye and the glow of health from the cheek. Or it may bind us in chains helplessly captive.
Death may come and take those dear by the ties of nature or friendship—and leave sorrow and grief to be our companions.
These things try the soul, but they must be borne. We cannot escape such things, for they are the common heritage of those who dwell in the tabernacles of clay. They belong to mortality and to the mutable things of time.
There are trials that come to us as the result of the acts or attitude of others. How few are man's kindnesses to his fellow man! How great his inhumanity! How much of the human distress is needless and comes only by the selfish or evil acts of others!
Christ said that we should not marvel if the world hates us. Neither should we marvel if it should act out its hatred in malicious persecution. Our Lord has told us that offenses must come. To be a Christian, means to be a target for the world's hatred. We can count persecution as a part of our Christian heritage. Sometimes we shall have cruel mockings and have our names cast out as evil. We cannot endure these things without some sense of pain. How much we suffer under them, will depend on how we meet them. If we praise God and go resolutely on our way—then strength will be given us, and we shall overcome, and instead of hindering us, persecution will bring us rich treasures of grace and blessing.
Sometimes we may be tried over what others do when they have no thought or intention of causing us a trial, and perhaps are wholly ignorant that they are causing us to be tried. Very often people allow themselves to be tried when things need not be a trial—if they will hold the right attitude toward the supposed offender. We can let ourselves be tried over trifles if we will; when if we would act as a real man or woman, we could pass over them quite easily and do it joyously and not allow them to amount to anything.
The problem with so many, is that they are like petulant children, who are hurt or displeased at almost anything. If someone has really done something on purpose to hurt you—you should not give him the satisfaction of knowing that it hurt. Keep the hurt out of sight. Hide it away and over come it, and, if possible, let it be known to none but God. Bear with meekness, whatever trial happens to you. Pray for your persecutors. That is the surest way to keep God in your own heart. "Father, forgive them," is the plea that takes the sting out of persecution.
Some trials come directly from Satan. For some reason we are left liable to his attacks. He attacked Job, destroyed his children, his possessions, and his health. God could shut him clear away from the world, just as he has shut him away from Heaven, if he chose. But for some purpose he sees fit to let us be exposed to his attacks here. Many people feel like a little boy who once said: "Mother, I wish God would kill the devil. Why doesn't he do it? I would, if I were big enough."
Satan is limited in his work against us, so that he can never go beyond God's will for us, so long as we leave ourselves in God's hands and rely upon him for the needed help. God does see fit sometimes to let him try us severely—but there never need be any cause for despair. God will not allow us to be tempted more than we are able to bear. If Satan makes the temptation—God makes the way out. Sometimes he does not let us see the way out, even when he has prepared it, and we have to resist and endure the temptation until he sees that it has gone far enough. Then he shows us the way out. Sometimes he will take us and lift us clear out of it by his own hand. At other times he will put our adversary to flight. Our part is to endure and trust—God's part is to make the way of escape. We must endure patiently until our deliverance comes.
Sometimes God himself tries or proves us. "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried" (Zechariah 13:9). The purpose of God's trying us, is often that we may know ourselves. If we become self-sufficient, or go to rejoicing in our own works—then he will likely send upon us or permit to come upon us, something that will bring us to know our insufficiency and need of help from him. Danger is often the only thing that can help us to know our own weakness; so God often lets a danger come in order to bring us to our senses. We should not let such a thing discourage us, but get the lesson that our strength is from him, and that our best efforts, if merely of ourselves, can avail little. He who trusts in God, has strength enough for his needs.
God sometimes tries us that we may know him better. He wants us to know just how dearly he loves us, and how earnest is his care for us, and how faithful he is to us; and so he lets every hope and resource fail us, and distress fall upon us. When everything fails, and we turn to him—how real is his help! How sweet is his comfort! If, however, when we find ourselves in such a situation, we despair and give up—then we lose the blessedness that he was preparing us for. We grieve his loving heart, and cheat ourselves.
Hold fast and wait for him to work out his purpose. He afflicts, only to heal. He grieves, only to turn the grief to rejoicing, and to give greater rejoicing than could come through any other means.
Our trials are the root upon which our blessings grow. These roots may be bitter—but the fruit is sure to be sweet, if we patiently wait for its maturing. Too many want the fruits of blessings—but are not willing to have the trial. Many choice fruits grow on thorny trees, and he who will gather the fruit may expect to be pricked now and then by the thorns.
But the trials that are hardest to bear, are the ones we bring upon ourselves. Many people suffer as a result of their own indiscretion. They act unwisely or unfittingly, and are buffeted for their faults. They are ridiculed or condemned; their names are on the tongue of the gossip, and they have no one to blame but themselves. If we do not act wisely or worthily—then we need not expect to have the confidence and esteem of others. If we are buffeted for our faults, the only Christian thing to do is to endure with meekness and patience, and try to do better next time. This is one kind of trial that is always bitter medicine. It brings no joy. The best thing we can do is to take our bitter medicine and make no wry faces about it.
We sometimes do things or say things that bring heaviness upon us. We heap blame and condemnation upon ourselves. We feel regret and sorrow, and are continually chiding ourselves. How many of these self-made trials could be avoided, if we would be careful always to watch ourselves and to think of the outcome before we speak or act. When we have brought such a trial upon ourselves, we can only brace up and endure it manfully. We need to learn our lesson well, but we need not let ourselves be crushed under it. Do not let yourself brood over it. Brooding will not help matters. Resolve to do better next time, and ask God to help you. Rise above the trial. If you have learned your lesson, God will help you out. He does not want to bruise you over it. He may chasten you sorely, but he will do it for your profit, not for your destruction.
Effects on the Sensibilities
The effect of trials on our sensibilities is often very great. Our feelings become deeply involved, and this is what makes trials hard to bear. Our feelings respond to them, and sometimes the result is great distress. If we permit these feelings to have their way, we may suffer a great deal in a trial. Some let their feelings have full freedom of action at such a time, and therefore the trial affects them powerfully.
It is within our power to limit our feelings to a very great extent. We can give way to them and thus greatly increase them—or we can set ourselves resolutely to modify and control them, and we shall be able to do it, and thereby greatly lessen the effect of the trial upon our sensibilities. Keep your mind off your troubles! Resolve to be happy in spite of them. Think of things that will make you feel better. Take hold of yourself and say: "Here! I will not feel this way. I will control myself and not give way to my emotions." Get your mind busy on other things. Get your hands busy with labor. Do not let your trials get too close to you. Do not make friends of them.
No matter how beautiful may be the scenery around you—you can hold a small, ugly object before your eyes and hide all the beauty, and see nothing but the object at which you gaze. So it is with our trials. If we let them hold our attention, if we look at them all the time—then they will shut out all the beauties of life about us, and will come to be the greatest things in our lives, even though in reality they may be very small and insignificant things.
There are people who allow their minds to be taken up largely by their trials. They are continually thinking over them and worrying over them. Their faces are clouded by them. They sigh and groan. When they interact with others, it is to tell what a hard, rough path they have been having. In such cases, the person is making his own hard paths.
Trials need not be allowed to take the sweetness out of life; they need not be allowed to shut out all the light and beauty of life. God does not intend that they shall.
Paul speaks of being "exceedingly joyful" in all his tribulations. He had plenty of tribulations, but he met them like a man, and instead of letting them get him down, he put his feet upon them and mastered them.
The first step in mastering a trial—is to master yourself. Gain control of your feelings. I do not say that you can always feel as you desire to feel—but you can prevent yourself from feeling as bad as you would feel if you would give way to your feelings. Do not act like a hurt and spoiled child, and go around trying to get people to sympathize with you. Do not waste any time pitying yourself. Act like a full-grown man or woman. Act as if you had some courage and fortitude. Face the situation manfully. You can do it if you will. Summon your resolution. Stand your ground against these things. Look to God and expect his help. You can overcome just as easily as others do, if you will.
What Makes Trials Hard to Bear
Giving way to our feelings and letting them have their way, is not the only thing that makes trials hard to bear. It is one of the chief things, but there are other things that add to the hardness of bearing trials.
First, there is love of ease, and unwillingness to suffer. The flesh naturally loves an easy time. It seeks pleasure and self-gratification. Anything that goes contrary to such, is unpleasant to it—and it is likely to rebel against it. If we give the flesh its way—then trials will be very hard for us. No matter what trials may come, it will make us shrink from them and rebel against them.
Life has both its bitter and its sweet. We should not always expect to have the sweet alone. We cannot have the capacity to enjoy, without also having the capacity to suffer. Suffering is just as needful in our lives as enjoyment, and sometimes serves an even better purpose. If we are unwilling to suffer and in consequence begin to kick against the goads—then we shall soon find ourselves wounded, and our sufferings increased. This unwillingness to suffer, keeps many people out of the pleasure which God would give them. But they draw back. They are not willing to suffer. When trials come, they rebel against them.
"We count them happy who endure" (James 5:11). But the class of people I am describing, cannot look upon endurance in this light. There is no happiness in it to them. There is no pleasantness to them. No matter what good comes to them through trials—they want it some other way. But trials will come anyway. They cannot escape them. The only thing they will do by rebelling, will be to increase their suffering in the trials and prevent themselves from getting the blessedness out of them. We ought to be willing to suffer when it is God's will for us to suffer, or when he sees it is necessary for us to suffer. Our Master drank the cup of suffering even though it was bitter. Are we better than he? Shall we refuse to go by the path that led him to glory?
Another thing that makes trials hard to bear, is fear of being overcome by them. When trials come to some, the first thing they think of is, "Shall I be able to endure them? Shall I be overcome in it?" They are all the time fearing and worrying, lest they should not be able to go through it. This fear itself is a source of weakness. It also increases the suffering that results from trials. When you add fear to your trials—then you double their size and weight. Why should you fear? Is not God upon his throne? Is he not watching over your life? Does he not know just how much you can endure? Will he let the fire be too hot? Will he let distress be too great? Will he fail you in anything? He says, "Fear not, for I am with you."
If you are disposed to fear your trials, a good thing to do is to collect a large number of the promises of God's help from the Bible. Write them down on a piece of paper, and keep them handy, and when you see a trial coming or realize that it is already upon you, and your fears begin to arise—then get your list of promises and begin reading them over. Read them carefully and thoughtfully. Read them as being true. Remember that God stands in back of each of them, and stands in back of it to make it true for you.
The trouble is that when people get to viewing their trials—they keep looking at their trials and not looking to God. They do not look at the promises. They forget all about them. And so the more they fear—the more troubled they become. There are a thousand promises that apply to your case.
There are a thousand promises that meet your daily need—and not one of all those promises will fail.
Another thing that makes trials hard to bear, is unbelief. God's promises will amount to nothing for us, unless we believe them and appropriate them unto ourselves. They are true for us whether we believe them or not—but they do not become effective for us, until we believe them. If you do not believe that God will help bear your trials—then you must take the whole weight of them upon yourself. If you do not believe that he will give you victory in them, then you must fight through to victory in your own strength. If you do not believe that victory is to be the outcome for you—then your belief will be a source of weakness to you, so that you will not have the confidence that you need to carry you through.
Unbelief is your greatest enemy. Unbelief will cloud your whole sky, and shut out the sunlight, and will close the channel of God's grace—so that it cannot be supplied to meet your needs. Unbelief will darken your mind and your heart. It will whisper in your ears that the situation is hopeless, that it is of no use to try.
Unbelief is Satan's strongest ally. Shut your heart to it, and believe with all your strength that God is true and that God is true to you. This is only asserting the truth; there is no make-believe about it. His trueness is just as real as your existence. You may have his help if you will believe, but if you will still abide in unbelief—then you must fight your battles and get out the best way you can. And that best way will often be a hard one. How much better to believe God, and take his way and his help!
Another thing that makes our trials hard to bear is struggling to escape from them. The question with so many when they are in trial is: "How can I get out of this? How can I get to the end of it?" They will take almost any way out of it, just so that they get out quick. The easiest way out, is not always the best way out. Trying to get out in what seems to be the easiest way—often gets us in the deeper, and makes the trial the more bitter.
The only safe way is to submit to God and let him bring us through in the way that he sees fit. He knows the best way. He knows just what we can endure. He knows just what is needed. He sees the end from the beginning. He knows how we are going to get through it. He knows what the outcome will be and what a blessing he has in store for us at the end of the trial.
But if we try to get out of the trial without passing through it—then we are sure to miss the blessing in the end. It is the blessing that God wants us to have, and that is what we need. If you struggle out of the trial without getting the lesson and the blessing—then God may bring it again. He may let it be repeated again and again—until you submit to his will and have wrought in you the thing that is needful.
You have seen a child with a splinter in its finger. When someone would go to pick it out, the child would jump and jerk and scream as though being dreadfully hurt, when probably the affected part had not been touched. Some act in this way toward God. It only hinders him and only hinders you. Hold still! If there is a splinter that must be picked out of your finger, let him have his way about it. Hold still until he finishes the operation! If you do not, you will only make it hurt the more.
Do not meet your trials with fear. Meet them courageously. Do not dread them. Keep confident in God. Do not rebel against them. Submit yourself to the Lord. He will make all things work together for good to you.
How Faith Sustains in Trial
We are told that we stand by faith. Faith is the one thing that can sustain us through every peril and through every difficulty.
I once stood upon the shore when the waves were dashing wildly against the rocks. A considerable distance from the shore I saw two objects rising and falling upon the waves, but as I kept gazing at them, I observed a difference in their behavior. I soon saw that, while both were being tossed by the waves, one was coming nearer me. It was being driven in toward land, while the other remained in its position. One was a floating log; the other was a buoy. Every wave drove the log nearer the shore, and I watched it until it was dashed against the rocks. The buoy still held its position.
What was the difference between the two? The buoy was anchored; the log was not. The iron cable of the buoy took fast hold upon the bottom and held, no matter how the storm raged; but the unanchored log was at the mercy of every wind and every wave.
Which object represents us depends upon our faith. If our faith is anchored in God, we are like the buoy which, though tossed by the waves, though beaten by the storms, yet holds its position and cannot be moved away. If we are not anchored by faith in God—then we are like the log, and it will be no wonder indeed if we are dashed upon the rocks.
The seaweed floats up on the surface of the water. It too is beaten by the storm and tossed by the waves, but it keeps its place; for down beneath the waves it has a sure grounding—by strong roots anchored to a rock. The storms may beat, the winds may blow, the waves may roll—but it holds fast, because it is fastened upon the rock.
In the same way, God would have us rooted in him through faith. This faith will sustain us and hold us in our place in the wildest storms or the bitterest trial.
Balance the trial by trust. As the trial increases—increase trust. The harder the trial comes upon us—the harder we should lean upon the Lord. He will sustain you, if you trust and lean on him.
We are not likely to be tried as hard as Job was. In fact, if we will compare our trials with his—we shall often feel ashamed to call them trials. Though Job was tempted to the limit and tried to the utmost—he was fully determined that his conduct should be righteous, and that not simply for a little while. Hear his expression of his determination: "My foot has held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (chapter 23:11,12). Through all his trials and afflictions—he stood steadfast and unmovable, glorifying God even when he could not pierce the darkness ahead of him. Even when he could not understand the present, and when the past was unexplained and unexplainable; even when his wife despaired, and his friends united in condemning him—still he held fast his integrity. His decision was not simply to hold on a little while and see if things would change. No, he intended to go through to the end, no matter what came. His decision was to be steadfast as long as he lived. Death was the only limit that he put upon his faithfulness. He might not be able to understand—but he would trust and keep true anyway. He might suffer, but he would not rebel. If he could not understand God's ways, he could understand his duty, and he would do his duty, regardless of what happened.
What a lesson of faithfulness and steadfastness! We ought to be ashamed to let the few little trials that we have, weaken our decision to serve the Lord and be true at any cost. What have we to endure compared with what he had? Let us be steadfast, therefore, and keep right on, knowing that our God is our helper and that he will never fail us.
Different Kinds of Trials
Some trials test us in one way and some in another.
Some test our COURAGE. Satan sometimes tries to frighten us by making a great show of threatening. Sometimes he makes things look very dark. He whispers to us that we shall surely be overwhelmed. If we but have courage to meet these—then we shall be able to overcome them. Often we have but to face them boldly, in order to chase them off the ground and to stand victorious on the field of battle.
Other trials test our FAITH. When sickness or disease take hold of us—it is then that faith is tested. When the adversary tries to bring doubts in our minds about God's faithfulness or the truth of his Word, and the faithfulness of his people—then faith is the weapon that we need to use to overcome him.
There are trials that test our LOYALTY. We are brought face to face with the question whether we will be loyal to God and his truth—or whether we will take some seemingly easier way and compromise his truth for the sake of getting off easier ourselves. We are often put in a position where our loyalty is tested, where we have to stand by the truth without deviating from it in the slightest degree, no matter what comes.
Sometimes we must make a choice between Christ and our friends. The question is then one of loyalty. To whom shall we be true—Christ or our friends? To whom shall we submit ourselves, and whom shall we obey? He has said, "Be faithful unto death." Shall we do it? Shall we do it, no matter what it means nor how long a struggle it means? The battle is half won, when we are fully decided to stand loyal whatever comes.
Battles of this sort may be decided before we enter into them, and then we have only the fighting to do. The result is certain. The old saying, "Well begun, is half done," is certainly true in the Christian life, especially when it comes to the matter of being decided to do the right and stand loyally by the truth whatever comes.
There are things that test our HUMILITY. There are plenty of people who for their own purposes, will flatter us and try to make us think that we are great people, or that we have done some great thing. They will praise us and flatter us for some selfish purpose. If we heed what they say—then we may become puffed up over it, and come to esteem ourselves more highly than we ought.
If we do something that is praise-worthy—we very often find within ourselves a feeling of having done so well, that we become elated over it. This also is a test of our humility. Let us keep our heart humble, no matter how much God blesses us. No matter how much praise comes to us, no matter how many things are said in our favor—let us keep balanced, and let not our humility be turned into pride.
There are things that test our LOVE. Can we love God just as much after he has let us pass through a hard trial, as we did before? If our brethren do something to wound us—can we still love them? If people misunderstand us and attribute wrong motives to us—can we still love them? These are the tests that count. These are the tests that test love. These are the things that prove whether it is genuine or not. If we are despised and persecuted, misrepresented and abused—can we still love? If people are our enemies, can we still love them?
There are trials that test our STEADFASTNESS—whether or not we will be patient and endure until God sees that it is enough, and takes us out of the fire. Other things test our patience. These are often very small things, and the smaller they are, the more they test our patience. Sometimes we need to keep a good hold upon ourselves and "let patience have her perfect work," that we may be "perfect and entire, lacking nothing." No matter in what way we are tested, if we have a will to be true, God will see to it that we have grace to trust him, so that we may overcome and be "more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).
The Value of Trials
Peter tells us that the trial of our faith is "much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire" (1 Peter 1:7). The question which now confronts us is whether we place such a value as that upon our trials.
What will men undergo to get gold? They will scale lofty mountains and wade through deep snows. They will face piercing winds and all sorts of perils, if they may but have the hope of getting gold.
Our trials are still more precious than gold, and it seems that we ought to be willing to bear them when we view them from that standpoint. However, there are a great many Christians who shrink from trials. Why do they? If they believe that trials are so valuable—then why do they shrink from them? Ah, that is the trouble—they do not believe what Peter said. They can see no gold in their trials. They see no value in them whatever. They are something to be gotten away from.
The trouble is that we often look at the wrong thing. If a man goes after gold and looks as the hardships instead of the gold—then he will not get any gold. But the gold-hunter does not look at the things that lie between him and the precious metal. He looks at the gold. He keeps his mind and his heart upon that. He presses forward through everything to gain that gold. There is gold for the believer in every trial. The trial lies between us and the gold.
If we look at the trial, we may forget the gold, and that is just what is the trouble with so many. They can see nothing but the trials. Beyond these lies the gold, yes, something far more precious than gold. Get your eyes off the trial. Look beyond it to the gold. Keep your mind and your heart set upon the gold, and you will find that you can face the trial a great deal easier than if you saw nothing beyond it. The gold of Christian character comes only through stress and storm. Fair-weather Christians never amount to much—nor do they develop stellar Christian characters. They are always contented with little fruit.
Results of Trials
God always works out something worth while from our trials, if we are true in them. He does not try us, merely to be trying us. He has a definite purpose to accomplish. Of Israel he said, "He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you" (Deuteronomy 8:16). The humbling and the proving were only that he might do them good at the latter end. So it is with us: God humbles us and tries us just to do us good later.
God's purpose is also made very plain in the parable of the figs in the twenty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." Jeremiah 24:5-7
God did not permit them to be carried into captivity simply as a punishment. It was that, to be sure; but his purpose was greater and more kindly than that. It was that he might do them good—that they should turn to him with their whole heart, and that he should bring them back to their own land and make them a holier and more trusting people than before.
Job knew the good that was going to come out of his trial, and he said, "He knows the way that I take—and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!" (Job 23:10).
The Psalmist learned this same lesson. He says: "Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." (Psalm 66:8-12).
This is the way the Bible speaks throughout when it speaks of trials well borne. Affliction may be laid upon us; men may ride over our heads; we may go through fire and through water; but the outcome of it will be that we shall come out into a place of abundance. And then, like the Psalmist, we can say, "Oh, bless our God!" Take your Bible and read also James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:7; and 4:12-13.
There is another text that we shall do well to study over and over: "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5). "Suffering produces perseverance." Is not perseverance that which we desire? Let us, then, bear suffering. Perseverance brings character. Character in turn brings hope. Suffering well borne, therefore, works out in all these things.