February was a difficult month for me. There were a number of contributing factors, but ultimately God allowed me to experience some trials that tested my faith. A friend and I were recently discussing some similarities between what we experienced and she sent me an e-mail with some insightful, truth-filled thoughts that she gleaned from a conference she attended this week. She graciously gave me permission to share a paragraph of her comments here:
God doesn’t want the pain we feel in our trial to go away. It produces a “staying power.” This comes from the Greek word used for perseverance; to stay under pressure. We can’t quit, complain, run, lash out, or fold. We have to stay under pressure so we can become mature and complete. And God is ready to give us wisdom while going through the trial. The only problem is we have to get our eyes off the trial long enough to ask for it.
I was so challenged by these thoughts! Usually the substance of my prayer during difficult times is that God would take away the trial and the associated pain. The realization that it is the very pain and pressure of the situation itself that serves as the agency of spiritual maturity is sobering. It reminds me of a quote that I heard years ago to the effect that we should see to it that any pressure in our lives does not come between us and the Lord so that it might instead serve always to press us closer to the Lord. There is, indeed, a certain joy and sweetness that is experienced more fully during hard times than during times of ease and pleasant situations. That’s why we must learn to give thanks and rejoice in the midst of trials – however big or small they may seem.