By Contributing Writer, Bambi Moore
As moms we all go through times of discouragement, challenges and temptations that cause us to sin, doubt or cry out to God for wisdom. We may even have an MMM. You know. A Momentary Motherhood Meltdown. But real suffering?
I’m a mom to eight. Many times I function throughout a day within varying degrees of exhaustion, as I’m sure many of you do as well. My family has been ill for several weeks now, sometimes seriously, and it has made me weary. But these are still light afflictions compared to what many are facing.
Lately, I have heard of some of the most catastrohpic trials imaginable to Christian parents. Trials that make you shudder, cover your mouth with your hands and collapse into prayer for the ones God has afflicted. Trials that make that fussy baby, sleepless night, or defiant toddler you contend with each day, look like a walk in the park.
- Children who were wrongly removed from their loving, Christian home by CPS.
- A three-year-old who accidentally shot and killed himself in his home.
- A child that has been loved and nurtured, was diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and sent away from his home for the safety of his siblings, as his parents cried buckets of tears.
- An adult child who has chosen the path of the prodigal, living a wicked, immoral life.
- A nineteen-year-old, the son of a pastor, who confessed to brutally murdering another man and will spend his life in prison.
- A mother who lives with severe, chronic pain who longs to care for her family but instead they must care for her. She yearns for the day the Lord will take her home and her pain will cease.
- A mother who has been praying for a child for years, conceives only to miscarry the baby, crushing her heart.
These are real people, some I know personally. Real trials. The kind we think happen to “everyone else.” Even as I write those words, I recoil inside. “Lord, don’t let it be me!” I far prefer God’s cheerful promises, not the ones assuring me of tribulation and suffering. I must ask instead, “Lord give me the grace required for a valley such as these are walking through, if you require it of me.”
All Things Work Together for Good
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28)
God also tells us that all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. (Psalm 25:10)
How can many of these tragic examples above possibly serve to produce anything good? In many ways, but here are a few ways trials are good for us:
Realizing His Power
We can know God will uphold us in times of trial, just as he did Daniel in the den of lions, or Jonah is the whale’s belly. Or how about the three Hebrews in the furnace? His strength will be made perfect in our weakness.
God may allow into our lives times of loss whether they be relationships, health or finances. The withdrawal of things we value can help us learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, as we allow the touch of death in areas we clutch tightly with white knuckles. Seeking God and His kingdom doesn’t come naturally to us. Troubles in our lives put the pressure on and lean us in the right direction–His strong arms.
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15)
Faithful to His Promises
”I will be with him in trouble.” (Psalm 91:15)
God does not bring us into trouble and leave us there. He stands by us. He holds us up when we are fainting. He is our strength in times of trouble. (Psalm 37:39)
We Get to Know Ourselves
Once I was struggling near the end of one of my pregnancies. I was certain I was to be the only woman alive that remained pregnant forever. Finally my labor began! Or so I thought. Turns out it was a false alarm and boy, was I ever whining like a spoiled child. My husband gently reminded me with these words, “Who we are in adversity…is who we really are.”
And it’s true, isn’t it? In good times we are, for the most part, strangers to ourselves. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. We see the corruption in our hearts that was there all along, but that we never would have realized was there apart from walking through the refiner’s fire. It’s humbling.
We Grow to be More Conformed and Grow in Grace
Christ was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He wept and bled and was crowned with thorns…and we want to be crowned with roses?
“A tree that is shaken by the wind is more settled and rooted; so, the blowing of a temptation does but settle a Christian the more in grace.” Thomas Watson, All Things For Good
We are, at one time or another, going to share in His sufferings:
“...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Philippians 3:10
Trials Send Our Souls to Prayer
The more intense the trial, the more fervently a Christian prays.
“The deer being shot with the dart, runs faster to the water. When Satan shoots his fiery darts at the soul, it then runs faster to the throne of grace.” Thomas Watson, All Things For Good.
Circumstances that make us pray more are working for good.
Fit to Comfort Others
There is nothing quite like empathy–comforting others in distresses that we ourselves have walked through. We can’t “speak a word in due season” unless we ourselves have walked through dark valleys.
He is at Work
“In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.” (Pastor John Piper)
Although there may be times that God allows us to see how He is at work, in my experience they have been few and far between. Not many times have I smacked my forehead and said, “Ah! That makes sense!” But I walk (sometimes stumble along) by faith and not by sight, thankful for His mercies, filling my mind with His word and truth.
There are many times that He is working His will and it is obscured from our finite eyes. We cannot possibly see the reason or even the outcome of every situation . We can’t fully fathom what He is doing in our lives. But we can be sure He is working. Lovingly, graciously, mercifully and purposefully working.
And some day, when we have Heaven’s perspective, we will understand more. Until then, we will say in faith, “Yes, Lord. You do all things well.”
What about you? Have you found that the “schoolhouses are in the valley?” What did you learn about the mercies of God there?