I. Where Do They Come From?
A. Trials come from many different sources.
1. They may be testings from God (Gen. 22:1).
2. They may be a chastening or correction from God (Deut. 8:3,5) (Heb. 12:5,6).
3. They may come as persecutions from the ungodly (John 15:18,19) (1 Pet. 3:16).
4. They may come from my own personal failure to make wise choices (Prov. 1:29-31) (Is. 3:9).
5. They may come also as a natural result of living in an imperfect world which is moving in the opposite direction you are. You will have to walk against the course of this world (1 Pet. 4:4) (Eph. 2:2,3) (Luke 7:31-34) (Heb. 12:3)!
II. What Are the Purposes of Trials?
The purposes God has in allowing trials and afflictions in our lives are many. The important thing to know is that they have a purpose They are working and producing a good thing, even though the trial itself may not seem like a good thing.
A. In Romans 5:3-5, Paul explains some of these purposes.
1. The produce endurance and perseverance, because they cause us to come to the end of our resources. Then we reach out to God for His resources (James 1:3).
2. They produce experience, character and maturity because you learn valuable lessons about God and yourself (Ps. 119:71) (James 1:4,5) (Phil. 4:11-13).
3. They produce hope, because you see that God won't let you down (2 Cor. 1:10).
B. In 1 Peter 5:10, Peter explains the effect of the trials they experienced was to, "perfect, establish, strengthen and settle" them. This again comes as the fruit described above.
C. Trials are a test of your faith (Gen. 22:1) (Is. 48:10) We are tested to see if our faith and obedience are real.
D. Trials also purify our faith (1 Pet. 1:6-9). Is our faith genuine? Are there areas where it is lacking or weak? He desires to make it strong. This is what God was doing when He made Abraham wait 25 years for a child (Rom. 4:18-21). God was persuading and teaching Abraham to look to Him.
E. Trials can be for correction, and to change our actions when we haven't been obedient to God.
III. How Can I Get the Most Benefit From Trials?
A. Don't try to run from the trial, but allow God's purpose to be fulfilled. "Let patience have its perfect work" (James 1:4). If you need correction, yield and change directions (Heb. 12:13). If your faith is being strengthened, wait in Him.
B. Pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) (Is. 26:16). Let Him show you His purpose and plan for this trial.
C. Don't fight or blame God, but surrender to Him. He is for you, not against you (Rom. 8:31) (Rom. 12:1) (Is. 26:16)(Prov. 21:30).
D. Make a choice to trust Him. Trust Him even if you can't see how things could ever work out (2 Chron. 20:12) (John 11:40). His ability and His ways are beyond your understanding.
E. Trust that God will work out all things for good. This is sometimes difficult, because many of the trials we experience do not appear to have anything good about them. Yet this is the promise of God. He is working "all things" out for your ultimate good, and His eternal purposes (Rom. 8:28) (2 Tim. 1:9) (2 Cor. 4:17,18) (Phil. 1:19).