Rejoice in the Trials | Reflections by Fellow Christina Fondren '17

Each season of life brings new joys, new trials, new hardships, new experiences – new ways in which the Lord reveals Himself to us. I’m currently going through a season of much confusion and trial, and I feel the genuineness of my faith being tested. This trial is particularly hard because it involves me having to trust the Lord with how He is leading the heart of someone I love very much, and at the moment that’s away from me. I’m having to faithfully relinquish control of the situation and fully trust the Lord is with this person. In the midst of such storms and deep pain, it’s hard to trust that God is truly sovereign over our lives. We feel lost, alone, alienated. We feel stripped of our security and comfort. We feel naked. We feel distant from the power of the Holy Spirit. In these storms and trials, we feel abandoned and hurt by our Creator. We begin to question. We grasp for control – something to hold on to.

We often forget to take time to reflect on the almighty power of our Lord and Savior. We need to remind ourselves that God created us perfectly in His image. Our truest and purest desires always reflect the Lord’s desires for us because He placed these desires on our heart when we were created. These are inextricably connected and cannot be separated. Amidst the storm, when we aren’t sure if the Lord is listening to our pleas and prayers, we can trust that He longs for our heart’s deepest desires to be fulfilled because He himself placed them there. Deeper than any of our worldly desires is our yearning to be in perfect communion with our Father – to continually be purified and strengthened to more closely imitate the life and heart of Jesus Christ. So when we doubt that the Lord is listening to us or at work in our lives, we should find rest because our God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He is leading us to Himself. Whatever trial we are enduring, we must have faith it is part of His greater plan even when we cannot yet see its purpose.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know … your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to me” (Psalm 139:13-15).

How amazing! The Lord knows us better than we can ever know ourselves. He saw us before we were even created and He beautifully fashioned us together. He knows our heart’s truest desires because HE created them! He knit us together perfectly in our mother’s womb – not one mistake was made in our creation. Every fear, doubt, and anxiety concerning our present and future state can be cast away because we belong to a God who directs every step of our life. Because of this, we can find rest and joy. His plans for us are far greater than we can ever imagine. Not only are these plans greater than anything we could devise for ourselves, but also are divinely ordained by our God, who is leading us to eternal life with Him.

Amidst the hardest of trials, we must trust that this trial has been divinely planned since before our creation. There is not a day or moment in our lives that goes unplanned: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23). The Lord not only is sovereign over every big event that will happen in our lives, but He also delights in every detail of our lives; He knows every windy road and beaten path we will take and every trial and obstacle we will face along the way. As Christians, we can trust that our Father in Heaven has divinely ordained our path, however messy and painful it appears. 

We are incomplete, flawed sinners in this world, but one day we will be made perfect saints. God won’t rest until His work in us is complete. “[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Our life is a continual journey and a progression towards entering the Kingdom of Heaven to spend eternity with our Savior. The trials and tribulations of this world are temporary, and in that we can rejoice.

These times of suffering are also opportunities for us to share in the suffering of our Lord, Jesus Christ. On this earth, Jesus endured the utmost suffering – dying on the cross – for each and every one of our sins, so that one day we can have eternal life. Amidst these trials and suffering, our lives begin to take the shape of the life of Jesus. “But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Peter 4:13). What an honor that the Lord has divinely chosen us to endure these trials, so that we may grow closer to entering sainthood and becoming more Jesus-like.

When we encounter such trials, the genuineness of our faith is truly tested. “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-8). The Lord declares that these trials are put in our lives by the Lord to strengthen and purify our faith, preparing us for eternity with Him. However, during these dark and painful trials, we are not alone. We can rejoice because not only are we being prepared for eternity with God, but because in this very moment we have the Lord of the Universe on our side. Even if we have nothing, we have everything because we have the Lord.

“There is an appointed time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 4:1-4).

So when trials and hardships come, we can weep, but we also have hope, because we have a Lord who loves us and knows us deeper than we can ever imagine. In this we can rejoice and experience a joy inexpressible that can only come from the Holy Spirit living within us. We can have hope because every trial and hardship we face is the Lord – our all-knowing and loving Father – refining us to become more Christ-like. We can rejoice because we know that this world is fleeting and the trials here are only temporary. Our citizenship is in heaven and one day we will return home. Through these trials and the testing of our faith, we are being prepared for our eternal home – heaven – where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Revelation 21:4). We can rejoice in the fact that one day, we will dwell with God in eternity. 

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