Trials Can Make You Strong
By Maria Fontaine
Everyone experiences the sting of injustice or the pain of rejection or the grief of losing a loved one at some time in their life. Such experiences can leave what we might call wounds to our spirit. Many of the unpleasant things that happen to us are like bruises or minor scrapes to our spirits, but at some time or another most of us experience a deep wound or serious injury to our spirits.
Like minor injuries to our bodies that leave a bruise but only hurt for a short while, most of our daily annoyances may temporarily make us “black” with negative thinking or “blue” with discouragement but are usually forgotten fairly quickly. We trust that they will eventually heal. However, when we suffer a serious physical injury, we go immediately to a physician who can properly tend to it. We have the wound cleansed and properly bandaged so that it’s protected, and sometimes need to have it checked regularly to make sure it’s healing properly.
This is an illustration of how our spiritual wounds can heal with faith, prayer, and proper care. But if we don’t allow them to be cleansed and healed through forgiving the wrongs, or if we try to hide our wounds or don’t seek out help, our wounds can become infected with bitterness, doubts, and resentment that can spread and poison our outlook on life, our happiness, our faith, and our relationship with others and even with Jesus.
Bitterness starts out small, but over time it festers and grows like an infection in a wound. If not cleansed and gotten rid of, it silently creeps into more and more areas of our life, turning our joy into the black slime of resentment and our unity with others into isolation. Therefore, just as we should immediately pay careful attention to a serious physical injury and avoid the risk of infection, so we should be vigilant about our spiritual wounds and avoid the infection of bitterness setting in.
The Bible teaches us to take care that bitterness doesn’t take root in our lives. “Let us search out and examine our ways.” (Lamentations 3:40 NKJV) “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” (Hebrews 12:15 TLB)
The Bible also encourages us to seek help and support from those mature in faith, and to confess our faults one to another and pray one for another. (James 5:14, 16) When it comes to getting rid of bitterness, it’s very beneficial to get help from someone who is strong in faith and God’s Word. Once you’ve gotten the problem out in the open and received prayer and counsel based on God’s Word, the next step is to forgive and move on. You can experience real freedom from the negative feelings that weigh you down. Challenges and difficulties don’t have to dictate your present outlook, because God has made a way for you to overcome the negative in your life. In fact, He intends for you to.
The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The past is past, and living in it through resentment and bitterness just keeps you a prisoner of something that has, in reality, left your life long ago. The more you get immersed in Jesus and His Word and learn to do things His way, the more the shadows of old things will pass away and the more you will become new. It doesn’t happen all at once, but as we put our will on His side, we will experience more and more peace and freedom from bitterness.
The Christian life is about overcoming obstacles, rising above our circumstances, and not letting things get us down. It’s about making stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. It’s about being healed in mind and spirit through faith, becoming whole through the Lord’s love, and becoming free from the bondage of bitterness and resentment through God’s Word. It’s about letting Jesus transform and renew our minds and guide us into His will for our lives. (Romans 12:2)
Our environment has influence on our lives to some extent. Everyone has had difficulties and hurts in their lives. But the Lord and His Word put the responsibility on each of us for how we react to whatever situations we find ourselves in. God has given each person a free will and free choice, and He is asking us to make the right decisions and to take the right steps.
We can’t prevent the troubles, but it’s up to us how we choose to respond. Many people have experienced major setbacks in their lives, perhaps even much greater than our own. Some react in one way and some in another, and as a result, turn out to be very different types of people leading very different lives. Despite the difficulties, some find contentment, fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction, while others are eaten up with despair, frustration, anger, and hatred. Those who have experienced difficulties in life and have overcome them are often able to be a great influence in helping others have the courage and faith to overcome their own troubles. Their examples are proof that it is possible to rise above seemingly impossible situations, to triumph in the face of hardship and wrongs.
According to God’s Word, our trials help to strengthen us. (1 Peter 4:12–13; 5:10) Think about it. If our entire life were problem-free, we might become complacent and never build the strength of character that comes from fighting to overcome problems. And we probably wouldn’t be able to relate to and have compassion on others who have gone through the same thing. (2 Corinthians 1:4) We might miss the beautiful miracle that takes place when we discover how much we need Jesus in our lives, and when we realize that we can always find strength in Him, even when we have no one else to turn to. We might never experience the thrill of having God come through for us and supply the answers we need to carry on.
God wants our joy to be full, (John 15:11) and one key to that joy lies in laying aside any weights of bitterness and resentment that seek to beset us, and trusting that God can cause all things to work together for our good, in His time.
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