Trials and tribulations are one of the few certainties we have in life. None of us can escape the peaks and valleys we encounter, and it’s easy to feel inadequate when sharing our trials, even to the point of feeling guilt and shame. We utilize some imaginary spiritual ruler we’ve created to tell ourselves our faith doesn’t measure up in comparison to others.
James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
First, we must know we are not alone in experiencing these sentiments. We will all meet trials. Furthermore, without them it’s impossible to attain a more mature, steady, and unwavering faith. We long for a deeper connection with God, but often it takes those times when God feels furthest away, in our trials, to actually get there. I recently got to experience this truth firsthand.
Spiritual Grime Produces a Sacred Growth
I just came out of a three year stint of trudging around in my own filth and muck, constantly wondering if I was hearing God right. Everything felt like a test.
It started a couple of years ago when I thought God was calling our family to adopt. As someone who, up to that point, had never actually experienced “a call,” I was excited (and nervous) to jump on board. We found an agency, attended a meeting, even shared the news with family and friends. We had barely begun the process when it felt as though God abruptly put it on hold.
Around the same time, I had a doctor throw around the word “cancer” in a phone call following an ultrasound. Thus began a couple of weeks of anxiously waiting for biopsy results. I went from daydreaming of adding a child to our mix to wondering how long I would be around for the kids we already had. I was relieved when the results came back benign, yet this only added to the confusion I experienced in what God was doing in our lives.
Amid all this, I began homeschooling our three children for the first time. They had been in public school for a couple of years, but after prayerful consideration, I felt as if I was supposed to take them out. Shortly into the first semester I realized it wasn’t working for one child in particular. We finished our year at home, but not without many arguments and tears (more from myself than the child). As a result, they were all in public school the following year. It felt like God kept asking me to say “yes,” only to turn around and say “no.”
As if that didn’t leave enough to be questioned, my husband was getting out of the Air Force as our trial year with homeschool came to an end, and we planned on moving to Arizona, where most of our family lived and we called home. However, through his job interviews, our prayers, and my tears, we began to feel as if God was calling us to move to Missouri. Despite feeling as if the last few steps of faith landed us in quicksand, we trailed ahead, moving to the Midwest without a job or a home.
Here are just a few of the things we experienced in our first year here: one awful stay in an Airbnb, four weeks of living in some friend’s basement, six staples to my daughter’s head (not counting a separate freak accident ripping her tooth and its root out), one broken wrist for my son, and no exaggeration when I say about twenty different colds, flus, or illnesses throughout our family.
To say our faith was being tested is putting it mildly. However, the doubts, confusion, and fear we faced helped expose a spiritual game of “Lost and Found” I had been playing for a while. Revealing these hidden places helped me remember who I was created to be, offering an abundance I had forgotten that God offers.
Without trials there is no transformation.