Question: Why would a loving God give us trials? |

TBC Staff

Question: We’re told that God uses trials to increase a believer’s faith and trust. Isn’t this out of character with a God who is love?

Response: The writer of Hebrews declares in no uncertain terms that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews:12:6). James:1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Paul in turn says that God gave him a “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me” (2 Corinthians:12:7). He further explains that he asked God to remove it and the Lord said no (verses 8-9). Paul also gave some medical advice to Timothy to help relieve this young man’s stomach problems and his “often infirmities” (1 Timothy:5:23). Why did Paul not heal Timothy as he had so many others? The answer is obvious. Just as God’s gift of a “thorn” to Paul accomplished a specific purpose, so too did Timothy’s affliction.

David was willing to walk “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm:23:4) because God was with him. This same verse also says, “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Consider the implication here. While the shepherd’s staff was used to gently pull a wayward sheep back into the fold, the rod was used to drive off predators and to direct straying sheep with a judicious whack or two.

What some might regard as a cruel act (or abuse) is really a gift of life! In the midst of severe judgment, Jeremiah wrote down God’s declaration: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah:29:11). Many faithful Christians are able to echo the testimony of the psalmist: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray…” (Psalm:119:67). Even a prolonged bedridden time of illness can be looked upon as “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” (Psalm:23:2).

Jesus promised joy, peace, and happiness in Him (not in the world). Though promising that tribulation would come, He gave us the promise that He had overcome the world (John:16:33), not that He would necessarily remove our affliction. Paul and the apostles testified of the myriad troubles that came their way. Even though their “outward man perish,” yet their “inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians:4:16). Although it’s not always easy to see how problems can strengthen a believer’s faith, the Apostle Paul testifies to such a fact (2 Corinthians:4:17-18; 5:1-21; 6:1-10, etc.). The scriptures are filled with examples (see Hebrews 11) of those who through trial, troubles, and great loss were brought closer to God. This does not exclude deliverance from afflictions (Psalm:34:19). We too must all walk in faith. Of even more concern is your assertion that you are unable to find these things in Scripture.