The Purpose of Trials By Joel Osteen

Purpose of Life, Trials, God, doTa, Seo No matter how successful we are, we all face challenges, struggles, and times when things don`t go our way. When calamities occur, some people immediately think they have done something wrong, that God must surely be punishing them. They don`t understand that God has a divine purpose for every challenge that comes into our lives. He doesn`t send the problems, but sometimes He allows us to go through them.
Why is that? The Bible says temptations, trials, and difficulties must come, because if we are to strengthen our spiritual muscles and grow stronger, we must have adversities to overcome and attacks to resist. Moreover, it`s in the tough times of life that we find out what we`re really made of. The pressure exposes things that we need to deal with things such as wrong attitudes, wrong motives, areas where we`re compromising. As odd as this may seem, the trials can be beneficial.

The Scripture says, €œDon`t be amazed at the fiery ordeal that`s tak­ing place to test your quality as though something strange was hap­pening.` Notice, the trial is intended to test your quality, to test your character, to test your faith. In other words, €œDon`t think it`s a big deal when you go through these tough times. All through life, you will face various tests, and even though you may not enjoy them, God will use those trials to refine you, to cleanse and purify you. He`s trying to shape you into the person He wants you to be. If you will learn to Co­operate with God and be quick to change and correct the areas that He brings to light, then you`ll pass that test and you will be promoted to a new level.

Tests of Faith

I`ve discovered in the struggles of life that God is more interested in changing me than He is in changing my circumstances. I`m not saying that God won`t change the circumstances. Certainly, He can and often does. But most of the time, I`m tested in the areas where I am the weakest.

You`ve probably found something similar to be true. If you have a problem with jealousy; it seems as though everybody you meet has more or better material possessions than you do. You notice that your best friend wears a brand-new outfit every time you turn around. The person you work next to, who makes half as much money as you do, comes driving up in a brand-new car. Your long-lost relative calls to tell you that she just won the lottery!

Are you going to pass the test? Are you going to keep a good atti­tude and rejoice with those who rejoice and be sincerely happy for them? Or are you going to get all negative and bitter and say, €œGod, I work harder than they do. Nothing good ever happens to me. I go to church every Sunday. Why can`t I get a new car?

That`s a test of your faith. That`s God bringing to light impurities in your character. That`s God trying to refine you. If you`ll learn to work with God, and let go of that jealousy, you`ll be amazed at the blessings and favor and victory that will come into your life.

I`m a very focused and goal-oriented person. When I have a project to do, I like to get it done right then and there. I`ve been that way my whole life. In elementary school, when the teacher would give us a homework assignment on a Monday that wasn`t due until Friday, I`d go home on Monday night and do the whole thing! I didn`t want any­thing hanging over my head.

When I go to a restaurant, I order before they even give me a menu. I`m trying to tell you in a roundabout way that sometimes I`m impa­tient. I don`t like to wait; I don`t like to be inconvenienced. But I`ve discovered that the more impatient I am, the more I find myself in sit­uations where I have to wait around. If I`m in a hurry to get out of the grocery store, inevitably I`ll get in the line with a brand-new cashier who is plodding through his or her first day on the job, and the person in front of me will have twenty-three items that don`t have a price tag on them!

At home, I`ve noticed that the more impatient I am, the longer it takes Victoria to get dressed for an occasion. Ironically, when I`m not in a hurry or being impatient, Victoria will beat me getting dressed. She`ll be out in the car waiting with the kids. But every time I`m impatient, one thing after another will delay us. Little Alexandra will have taken Victoria`s makeup. The iron won`t work right. My wife can`t find our daughter`s shoes. Interesting, isn`t it? Victoria doesn`t re­alize it, but God is using her to refine me while she`s getting dressed!

God deliberately uses situations such as these so I can recognize the problem in myself and learn to deal with it. He`s working something out of me so I can rise to a new level and be the person He really wants me to be.

In a similar way, God will use people in your life. Your own hus­band or wife, your in-laws, or your own children may be the unwitting mirrors that God uses to reveal areas where you need to change.

€œJoel, I can`t stand my boss. He irritates me to no end. I don`t know why I have to work with him day in and day out. When is God ever going to change that man?

Have you considered that God may want to change you? God may have purposely arranged for you to be in close proximity to that per­son who grates against you. He may be trying to teach you how to love your enemies. Or, He may be trying to toughen you up a little and teach you to have some endurance, to not run from everything that is hard, uncomfortable, or inconvenient.

A husband moans, €œGod, why did You put me with this woman? She can`t do anything right. She can`t even cook. She burns the toast. She can`t make a meat loaf. God, when are You going to change her?

She`s probably going to continue to cook just like that until you learn how to get over it, have a better attitude, and start appreciating the fact that at least she`s trying to do something for you. You could be eating a TV dinner!

A parent complains, €œGod, these kids are driving me bananas. If You would just make them behave, then I`ll be happy

God is not going to change anyone you are dealing with until He first changes you. But if you`ll quit complaining about everybody around you and, instead, start taking a good look inside and working with God to change you, God will change those other people. Examine your own heart and see if there are attitudes and motives that you need to change.

One day I was driving to church, and I was running a bit late for an important meeting. I knew that if could avoid any traffic jams, I`d get there just in time. But I caught every single stoplight going out of the neighborhood. I even got stopped by a light that I had never before seen turn red, not in my entire lifetime!

I started praying as 1 drove, but the more I prayed, the longer it took me to get through the traffic lights. I finally steered onto the highway and took off toward the church as fast as I could drive, praying the whole time that God would give me the discernment to know which hill the policemen were waiting behind. I had just enough time to make it to my meeting.

But as I kept going, much to my chagrin, the traffic started moving slower and slower. I thought, Oh, no! What is going on? Eventually, the traffic came to a complete stop. I thought, God, I`ve got to get to this meeting. You`ve got to help me. In a couple of minutes, the lane next to me started moving. I tried everything I possibly could to get into that lane, but it was just one of those days. Nobody was willing to let me squeeze in. I had my blinker on, I was smiling and waving, I was holding up money, I was blowing kisses, I was doing everything, yet no­body would let me in!

Finally, a sweet little old lady was kind enough to let me pull into the lane in front of her. I thought, All right! At last, I can get going! But just as I tramped down on the gas pedal, the flow of traffic in that lane came to a complete stop, and I had to slam on the brakes. Meanwhile, my previous lane starting moving! I was so frustrated that I didn`t even want to think about trying to get back in that other lane.

I didn`t realize that God was testing me in the area of my patience. I sat stewing in that traffic for about ten minutes, and when it started inching forward, I noticed the problem. A car had stalled and had been pulled off to the right side of the road by a wrecker.

As I drew nearer to the flashing lights, compassion for a stranded mo­torist was the farthest thing from my mind. Instead, I was thinking, I wish you`d keep that old piece of junk off the road; here you are holding everybody up, and you`re making me miss my meeting! My attitude was terribly sour. About that time, my heart sank. I looked over at the dis­abled vehicle and I saw what looked to be a Lakewood Church bumper sticker on it. Sure enough, when I drove by, I slowed down and looked over, and saw a man smiling and waving at me. I smiled back and waved at him like I was his best friend. I thought, If he only knew the truth!

That`s when it dawned on me that perhaps God was trying to teach me something. Maybe God was using the traffic jam to bring to light impurities in my character. This was God showing me areas in which I needed to improve.

God often allows you, too, to go through situations to draw out those impurities in your character. You can rebuke until your €œre­buker wears out. You can pray, you can resist, you can bind, you can loose, you can sing and shout, you can do it all, but it`s not going to do you any good! God is more interested in changing you than He is in changing the circumstances. And the sooner you learn to cooperate with God, the sooner you`ll get out of that mess. The quicker you learn your lesson and start dealing with those bad attitudes and start ruling over your emotions, the quicker you`ll go to the next level in your spiritual journey. We must recognize the refining purpose of tri­als. We can`t run from everything that`s hard in our lives.

Perhaps you are in a trial, and you`re doing what I did. You`re praying for God to deliver you out of that negative situation. That is a legitimate prayer, but maybe you`re missing the point of why you were allowed to go through that trying time.

Recognize that God wants to do a work in you. He`s molding you and refining you. But you`re so busy trying to evade the difficulty, the work is not being done. You`re so focused on all the circumstances and all the people around you that you haven`t taken time to look deep in­side and deal with the issues God is bringing to light.

Perhaps you get worried and full of fear when important things don`t go your way. Have you ever thought that God may be allowing those events to teach you to trust Him and to see if you will stay peaceful and calm in the midst of the storm? Have you considered that God may be allowing some of that to teach you how to rule over your emotions? He may be trying to toughen you up, to help you develop some backbone and stability in your life.

We often pray, €œGod, if You will change my circumstances, then I`ll change. No, it works the other way around. We have to he willing to change our attitudes and deal with the issues God brings up; then God will change those circumstances.

God loves you far too much to allow you to go through life in medi­ocrity. He will often permit pressure to be applied to your life, to test you, and only as you pass those tests will you advance. He will put peo­ple and circumstances in your path that grate on you like sandpaper, but He will use them to rub off your rough edges. You may not always like it; you may want to run from it, you may even resist it, but God is going to keep bringing up the issue, again and again, until you pass the test.

Work in Progress

Remember, the Bible says, €œWe are {God`s] workmanship. That means we are a work in progress, not a finished product. One way or the other, God is going to get His way. Either you can learn the hard way, as I did in that traffic, and say, €œOkay, God, I`ll do it Your way. I understand. I`ll be calm; I`ll be patient. Or, you can do it the easier way: When struggles come your way, look deep inside and be quick to change. Be willing to deal with any issues that God brings up. Work with God in the refining process rather than fighting against Him.

Scripture says that God is the potter and we are the clay. Clay works best when it is pliable, malleable, and moldable. But if you are hard, crusty, and set in your ways, God will have to pound away on that old, hard clay to get out the lumps.

Certainly, none of us enjoy going through struggles, but you have to understand that your struggle may be an opportunity for advancement and promotion. The very thing that you are fighting against so tena­ciously may be the springboard that catapults you to a new level of ex­cellence. Your challenges may become your greatest assets.

Many years ago, fishing for codfish tip in the Northeast had be­come a lucrative commercial business. The fishing industry recognized that a great market for codfish existed all over America, but they had a major problem in the distribution. At first, they simply froze the fish, as they did all their other products, and shipped it out all across the country. But for some reason, after the codfish was frozen, it lost its taste. So the owners decided to ship the fish in huge tanks filled with fresh seawater. They thought for sure that would solve the problem and keep the fish fresh. But to their dismay, this process only made matters worse. Because the fish were inactive in the tank, they became soft and mushy, and once again they lost their taste.

One day somebody decided to put some catfish in the tank with the codfish. Catfish are a natural enemy of codfish, so as the tank traveled across the country, the codfish had to stay alert and active and be on the lookout for the catfish. Amazingly, when the tank arrived at its des­tination, the codfish were as fresh and tasty as they were in the North­east.

Like that catfish, perhaps your adversity was dropped in your path for a purpose. Perhaps it was put there to challenge you, to strengthen you, to sharpen you, to keep you fresh, to keep you alive and active and growing. Granted, at times, it feels as though you have a great white shark in the tank rather than a catfish, but the adversity you are facing could very well be something that God is using to push you and chal­lenge you to be your best. The trial is a test of your faith, character, and endurance. Don`t give up. Don`t quit. Don`t whine and complain, saying, €œGod, why is all this happening to me?

Instead, stand strong and fight the good fight of faith. God is giv­ing you an opportunity for promotion. It is the struggle that gives us the strength. Without opposition or resistance, there is no potential for progress. Without the resistance of air, an eagle can`t soar. Without the resistance of water, a ship can`t float. Without the resistance of grav­ity, you and I can`t even walk.

Yet our human tendency is to want everything easily. €œGod, can`t You teach me patience without having to go through the traffic jam? God, can`t You teach me how to love and trust You without ever hav­ing a problem?

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts; there`s no easy way to mature physically, emotionally, or spiritually. You must remain determined and work with God. The Bible says, €œWork out your own salvation. Salvation is more than a onetime prayer. It is constantly working with God, dealing with the issues He brings up and keeping a good attitude, fighting through until you win the victory.

Some bumblebees were taken along on a space mission for a study on the effects of weightlessness. Similar to humans in space, the bees floated around with such great ease, they didn`t even have to use their wings. It looked as though they were thriving in the weightless envi­ronment without work, struggle, or adversity. But after three days, all the bees died. The experiment was summed tip with these words: €œThey enjoyed the ride, but they didn`t survive. Bees were never meant to go through life without using their wings, not having any re­sistance. In the same way, you and I were never made to float through life on flowery beds of ease.

God never promised that we wouldn`t have challenges. In fact, He said just the opposite. His Word says, €œBe truly glad` These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure . . . So if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.

When you go through difficult times, make sure you pass the test. Don`t be stubborn and hardheaded. Recognize that God is refining you, knocking off some of your rough edges. Stand strong arid fight the good fight of faith. God has called each of us to be champions; you are destined to win. If you will work with God and keep a good atti­tude, then no matter what comes against you, the Bible says that all things€”not just the good things in life, but all things€”will work to­gether for your good.

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