Every believer faces tests where we crash up against suffering, trials, and the unknown. We don’t like that! We want to feel like we know what is going to happen. We want guarantees. Timelines. Promises. We want to feel like we have control. Sometimes, we would rather even push for a bad outcome if only we can just “get closure” and not have to bob around in an ocean of not-knowing any longer.
It is often the waiting and not knowing one way or the other that seems like such torture.
This issue is not confined to uncertainty in our marriages, it covers everything in our lives.
How can I possibly rest in the peace and sovereignty of God when there is constant uncertainty and no way for me to know what will happen?
GOD’S WORD ABOUT TRIALS AND SUFFERING FOR BELIEVERS IN CHRIST
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
- I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
- We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance. Rom. 5:3
- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Rom. 8:18
- Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rom. 12:12
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
- Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Heb. 12:7
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
- Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
- Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Pet. 4:12
I believe that if we can understand that God has purpose behind the suffering we experience and behind the times we have to wait in uncertainty, we can embrace the good things He wants to accomplish in our lives during those times.
These trials are often gifts and blessings from Him in disguise IF we are willing to trust Him completely and receive all that He has for us in them.
GOD HAS MUCH GREATER GOALS IN MIND
We tend to think primarily about our current comfort level, health, and happiness. We focus on our human wisdom and what seems best to us in the moment.
God focuses on:
- Conforming us, our husbands, children, and others in our lives to the image of Christ over the long term.
- His Kingdom and how He wants it to grow and how He wants to use our situations in our lives to help accomplish bringing more of His beloved children to Christ.
This kind of spiritual growth doesn’t happen when we get everything we want and have smooth sailing.
We tend to grow the most when we get really stretched by difficulties.
It is similar to the way that if we don’t use our muscles, they will atrophy and get weak. Our faith is like that. In order for our faith to grow, it has to face resistance. When we have times of difficulty and times where we don’t know what will happen, we are forced to learn to depend on the Lord in ways that we just wouldn’t if things were going well.
This takes much spiritual wrestling sometimes. And that is okay! Times of waiting and suffering are hard. But they often produce great results when they are in the right hands:
- If land never has rain or storms, it becomes a barren desert.
- If gold is not refined, it contains many impurities that weaken it and make it much less valuable.
- If a farmer will not wait for his crops to grow, he will never get to enjoy the harvest.
- If a fruit tree is not properly pruned, the branches grow in crazy ways that cause the limbs of the tree to break as the fruit begins to get heavy. The tree can’t produce as much fruit and the fruit is not nearly as sweet for an unpruned tree. It also looks terrible – broken branches everywhere and no pleasing shape.
God knows what our souls need to grow and to become very valuable in His sight. If we are able to trust God’s heart for us, we can know that whatever pain or time of waiting and uncertainty we face, He absolutely can and will use it for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. That is a promise to those who are in Christ – Romans 8:28-29!
- It is in our times of trials that we have the opportunity to receive the most powerful spiritual treasure from the Lord if we have eyes of faith.
- It is when we don’t know what will happen that we learn to hold onto outcomes and the things of this world loosely and we learn to cling to the Rock of Christ alone.
- These times are spiritual tests. They reveal to us whether the Lord’s Spirit is in control or our flesh is in control so that we can repent of sin that we probably wouldn’t have seen if not for the trial.
- God uses trials and uncertainty to strengthen and grow us spiritually, to purify our faith, and to refine our motives.
- He uses our godly response in the face of trials to draw unbelievers and weaker believers to Himself and to increase their faith.
- Sometimes the Holy Spirit uses our Spirit-filled responses to problems to bring conviction to our husbands or others for their sin or lack of faith without us preaching, lecturing, nagging, or even necessarily saying a word.
- He teaches us to depend on Him completely, not our circumstances.
- He teaches us to desire Him alone and to be content in Christ alone.
- He changes our desires to match His desires – to move from self-intrest to seeking God’s will and His greatest glory.
- In these times, we learn to know God more fully and to rest in His sovereignty and love.
- Sometimes, it is the waiting that is the most important thing, because this produces perseverance in us that we could not develop any other way.
- In trials, we discover who and what we truly trust and where we look for our source of power.
- When our faith has been tested, we have much more credibility with others, our words about the Lord carry much more weight.
PRAYER WHEN WE ARE FACING THE UNKNOWN, TRIALS, AND SUFFERING:
You alone are God. There is no other. You reign in majesty and splendor from the throne room of the highest heaven over all of the universe. You are sovereign. You are good. You are love. You have all wisdom. You have all truth. You can’t have evil motives toward me. You are an Expert at turning disasters and tragedies into beautiful things for Your glory. You are the Healer. You are my Strength and my Shield, a very present Help in trouble. You are my Very Great Reward. There is no greater treasure in the universe than You. You spared nothing to provide for my salvation when I was still Your enemy. You sent Jesus to live and die in my place. Now His holiness, goodness, power, peace, joy, and right-standing with You are mine. His life, death, and resurrection belong to me. I am seated with Him in the heavenlies already!
You are intimately aware of all of my fears, my suffering, my needs, and my concerns. I thank You for that. You walk this road with me, living in me, empowering me with Your Spirit. I lay down every single fear and all of my desires and dreams. Here are the things I desire…
But – more than any of these things, I desire You. I want to know You and love You more. I want to give You total access and freedom in my life to conform me to the image of Christ in whatever ways You know are best. I want Your glory. I want others to be drawn to Christ. I want Your kingdom to come into this situation and many to come to Jesus. I want to receive all the spiritual treasures You have for me to learn. I don’t want to waste a moment of this trial – but have my eyes open to all You have in store – for the adventure that awaits.
I praise and thank You now for all You are doing and all You will do through this very situation for Your good purposes in my life and in my husband’s life and in our family. I entrust it all to Your strong, capable hands. I know You will never fail me. I know You will never leave me or forsake me. I cling to Your Word and Your promises. I will sing praises to You even in the storm, knowing You will cause this storm to bear much fruit in my life.
How have you learned to approach trials and suffering with joy, anticipation, and faith?