Last week, in Lessons Before the Cross, Part 2, we saw that because God must “approve” our trials, and we can be assured that He will never allow anything we cannot handle with His help. Before allowing us to go through them, He prepares a way out! In fact, He has already prayed for us that we will remain strong, before the trial even comes knocking at the door!
We also saw that God allows us to go through trials because they reveal the hidden places of our heart that need to be submitted to Him, and because they teach us powerful lessons in surrender to Him and to His will. But there are two more important lessons about why God allows trials that Jesus wished for us to glean from these verses:
“Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32, NKJV)
Notice the phrase, “when you have returned to Me“. Herein lies the next reason God allows us to suffer trials.
When Jesus gave permission for Peter to be “sifted like wheat”, He knew that Peter would deny Him! He knew Peter wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the temptation!
Why would God allow him to go through something, fully knowing he are too weak to prevail???
Because Peter was completely unaware of his weakness! He had to fail before he could recognize that his faith was not what it should be!
When my son was in Grade 12 History class, he was given one day’s notice before a major examination. He was upset about so little time, but only by the concept of the thing. He actually wasn’t worried about the test itself, because “she never gives anything on the test that she doesn’t cover in the review, and the review was easy.”
Consequently, my son spent very little time studying for his history exam. Several times that evening I asked him if he should be studying the notes he had taken in class throughout the unit, and he assured me each time that it wasn’t necessary.
I had a choice to make at this stage: Either I forced him to study (a little hard when he’s bigger than me…) or I let him learn a hard lesson. I decided on the latter option, and I wasn’t at all surprised when he came home from school the next day very discouraged. Over a third of the test had not been covered in the teacher’s review.
“So did you learn anything?” I asked.
“Yup!” was the response. “I learned that I need to study all of my notes next time!”
This lesson served him well for his final exam. His grade was in the 90s.
With human nature being the way it is, my son would never have learned this lesson if I had insisted on him studying. God understands human nature, and He allows us trials to reveal to us things that we don’t know about ourselves.
Let’s take yet another look at Luke 22:32: “and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.“
This brings us to the last vital lesson on why we are allowed to experience trials: Because when we prevail, the lessons we learn can serve as powerful witnesses to our brothers and sisters in Christ! They can serve to inspire others, and they can serve as a tool to witness to those around us.
Take, for example, my 2012 battle with cancer. God inspired me to write up the things that He and I experienced during my walk through this valley of my life, and after just a few months, this manuscript has already been an encouragement to many. But more than this, it has became a tool that I could use for witnessing to my non-Christian friends and colleagues. God knew what He was doing when He allowed this trial, and He used this situation to His glory.
Friends, the next time you find yourself in turbulent times, remember the lessons Jesus gave His disciples just before that very first Easter:
1. God pre-approves our trials.
2. Though He allows them, God doesn’t just leave us to go through them by ourselves. Instead, He prays for us to be strengthened.
3. He gives us trials for three reasons:
a. To reveal our weaknesses to us;
b. To provide us with tools that we can use to witness; and
c. To strengthen those around us who may be going through the same troubles.
Join us next Tuesday for Lessons Before the Cross, Part 4: Two Swords
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “Lessons Before the Cross” series, please click here.)