One thing that we all experience in life are trials. We all have seasons of pain and sometimes go through the “dark night of the soul.” It is easy to develop the wrong perspective in the midst of undergoing a trial. The following are some things to remember during the darkest of times.
1. God is Sovereign and in Control
Scripture is clear that God is sovereign and in full control of all things. The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, / And His sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19). There is nothing outside of His control. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings (Daniel 2:21). Even Satan and the forces of evil cannot act without God’s sovereign allowance. Satan could not test Job without God’s permission, and even then, God set the boundaries that the devil could not cross. Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand, only do not put forth your hand on him” (Job 1:12). God told Satan he could do whatever he wanted with what Job owned but that he could not bring about any physical harm upon him. Later, after Satan challenged God again concerning Job’s righteousness, the Lord allowed him to afflict pain on the man but would not let him kill him. So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, only spare his life (Job 2:6). Jesus also stated to Peter that Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat (Luke 22:31). The devil had to demand permission to test the disciples. He could not do this without God’s consent. God is also in control of the trial you are going through right now. He either has brought it about or permitted it. Your world may seem to you to be spiraling out of control, but God is still holding it together in His hands.
2. God has a Purpose in the Pain
Not only is God in control but He also has a plan. He works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). In fact, James instructs us to Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (James 1:2-3). We should rejoice in our trials, not on account of the pain, but because there is a purpose in the pain. God uses these trials that He appoints in our lives to strengthen our faith and enable us to persevere to the end. We often learn more and have our faith mature during the valley experiences in our lives than when we are on the mountaintops. Believers have the precious promise that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). While the all things include “ the good, the bad, and the ugly,” the end result is good. The life of Joseph serves as an example of this principle. Joseph experienced a lot of horrible situations in his life. In their jealousy, his brothers put him in a pit and then sold him to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:18-28). Potipher’s wife falsely accused him and he wound up in prison (Genesis 39:6-20). The cupbearer forgets his promise to Joseph to tell the Pharaoh about him after the interpretation of his dream proves true (Genesis 40:23). However, at the end of Joseph’s life, he is able to say to his brothers: As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20). God used the wicked act of the brother’s treason to place Joseph in the second highest position in Egypt where he was able to provide for his family in the time of famine. Joseph may not have realized God at work during the time that he spent in the pit, but now he sees how God orchestrated all of these events for His purpose to save His people. You may not realize what God intends to do with the pit that you are currently sitting in. We only see a few feet ahead of us but God knows the entire picture that He is working out. He is in control and has a purpose in the pain.
3. God does What is Right
We may not understand the pain we are experiencing or the reason that God has for it, but we can trust that God knows what He is doing. When he inquired about God sparing the righteous in the city of Sodom, Abraham asks Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justice? (Genesis 18:25). He recognized that God is just and therefore will be the perfect judge. God does not make mistakes. Everything He does is perfect and right. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! (Romans 9:14). His will is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). His ways may not always make sense to us, but we can be assured that He is doing what is ultimately in our best interest and what will bring Him glory. Keep in mind that we are not just and do not often know what is best for ourselves. Left in control we would drive the car over the ledge, thinking that we were going the right direction the entire time. Praise God that He is in control with the perfect plan and knows what He is doing!
4. God Comforts the Afflicted
Paul describes God as the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God is there to comfort us during the tough times of trial we go through. David referred to God as his shepherd (Psalm 23:1). God protects and provides for His children as a shepherd would for his sheep. God has promised that “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6). He is the One in whom we can find our help (Psalm 121:1). We have no reason to search for comfort anywhere else since God is all that we need. During this difficult situation that you may be in, know that God is here to comfort you. May you find rest in knowing that He is in control, has a purpose in the pain, does what is right, and comforts those who are hurting.
Soli Deo Gloria!