The theme of this article arose due to a Christian pastor friend of mine talking of the reasons we go through trials. Of course you will get a wide range of thoughts on this subject. Some believe ‘stuff’ happens and you can’t do anything about it. Others believe that you can change your destiny by the power of the mind, thus at times avoiding these trial times altogether. Then there are those who accept their lot as Karma and believe that what goes around comes around and a better life will follow. My pastor friend however was saying that from his Christian point of view and in line with his belief in God, that trials have a lot to teach us. One of the opportunities for growth through trials is in the area of patience. Another is that we can see trials as testing grounds for greater trials to come. An obscure wisdom verse in the bible says, “So you think it hard to run against cunning opposition, wait ‘till you run against horses”. Some biblical stories teach us about our trials and liken them to a fire that has the potential to burn away the ‘hay and the stubble’ so that only what is of good value is left. We see this being worked out on sugar cane farms. Only after the fire has gone through and cleared out the undergrowth and the vermin can the cutters start. Another biblical analogy is that of metal being purified in the furnace. Only when the heat reaches a certain temperature, the dross or slag floats to the surface and can be skimmed off. There definitely are benefits from the surviving of trials. We know that if we could make it after the last one we should be able to make it through the next. Others watching are encouraged in their own trials when they see us walk through our own fire. Talking of fire, and that’s where the fourth man comes in, a story that has been recorded in the bible is of three Jewish men who were thrown into a furnace by the Babylonians because they would not recant from their belief in the God of Israel. The story goes that as the chief executioner peered in to the fire he saw four men and what’s more they were not burning but walking around. He said that the fourth man looked like the Son of God. When the untouched men were finally taken out of the fire they testified that it had been the Son of God who walked with them through the fire and had preserved them. I wonder how many of us would stand for our faith or strong beliefs to the point of being killed for them and if thrown into the ‘fires’, expect God to bring us through. My pastor friend and I and many others would hope to do that and know that our ‘Son of God’/Jesus would ‘walk’ through our trials with us. After all He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. Do you know the fourth man? Could you put your trust in Him? As you face life’s trials, you can know security, strength and love if you are confidant in whose hands you are held. The outcome may not be what you expect but the journey will have been worthwhile.
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