If you are reading this, I’m going to assume you’ve travelled down some hard roads. The Bible tells us we will face trials of various kinds. If you want to grow in your faith, it’s important to learn from our struggles. Continue to read how to turn past struggles into building blocks of faith.
John 16:33 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.”
I don’t know about you, but if it were up to me, I would never choose to walk through trials.
I’ve gone through quite a few and would love not to revisit them, or wish those trials for anyone else.
The bad news is that trials can’t be avoided.
The good news is, that the trials we face can help us grow and become building blocks to our faith.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love.1 Peter 1: 6-7
When our faith is tested, it can encourage others in their faith, bring glory to God, and strengthen our foundation to face the next trial.
So, how does this all work?
How to turn past struggles into building blocks of faith
I love giving examples from the Bible, so that’s what I’m going to do now.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.James 1:2-4 NKJV
These verses tell us again that we will face trials. But these verses also assure us that trials have a purpose and can help us grow.
How do trials help us grow?
As I think about our walk with The Lord, I can’t help but compare it to the physical growth we go through in our lives.
The first time a baby tries to walk, they are wobbly, tumble and then fall.
This “failure” doesn’t keep them from trying again. If anything, it gives them more confidence to try again. The more they fall, the more times they get back up, try again, and then “master” walking.
The same can be said of us when we face trials.
The first time we face trials, we are like that baby taking its first steps. We stumble and fall and our faith can be tested, and we may feel overwhelmed.
But, when the trial is over, we see we made it through and it gives us confidence that we can do it again.
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A Personal trial that helped me grow
My husband and I have been married for 15 years, and years 2-5 were rough. Not because our marriage was on the rocks, but because we faced one trial after another, after another.
It was an extremely hard time.
Over a couple of years, my husband lost his job 3 times.
The first time, I was livid toward God. I could not believe that God would let my husband lose his job when I knew Greg was a hard-working person who was just never given the chance to succeed.
I spent a while being mad about the scenario and was an emotional basket case.
But, after a few months, my husband found a job, and we rejoiced.
- The next time my husband lost his job, my first reaction was to be angry. But this time, the process of me going from angry at God to depending on God was much shorter.
Then, I’m not sure how long after that, my husband lost his job a third time.
It’s been a while since that happened, so I don’t remember the details, but I remember someone saying:
“You seem so calm about this! Why are you not worried?
I just remembered thinking: Greg has lost his job before and each time, The Lord brought a job at the right time. We never went hungry, without food, clothing or shelter. Since The Lord has provided for us before, I know He will again.
I never knew what the provision would look like, or how long we would be in this scenario, but I had first-hand proof and experience that God can provide for us now because He has done for us before.
The previous 2 job losses increased my dependence on God and taught me to trust Him.
They built my foundation of faith so that the next time a storm hit, my faith was anchored. It didn’t move.
I don’t share this to promote me and my faith, because none of it was me. It was ALL The Lord.
He is the one who gave me the faith to trust in Him, He is the one who heard me screaming and comforted me, He is the one who was with me in the trial, and He is the one who grew my faith.
The experience of going through those trials, and “coming out of the other side” grew my faith.
Do you see how one trial helped me grow and built my faith to face the next one?
So, how can we replicate this?
When we face trials, we need to take a minute and remember what God has done for us
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.Deuteronomy 8:2
Remember all the work he had done
The Lord was calling the Israelites to remember all the works he had done.
- How The Lord led them out of Egypt and saved them from Pharaoh’s army
- How The Lord provided water and food in the desert when they were hungry and thirsty
- How The Lord helped them conquer nations and armies to bring them to the promised land.
Not only were The Israelites told to remember what God had done, they also placed stones to help trigger their memory and share God’s work with the next generation
Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” 28 So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.Joshua 24: 26-28
This was not the only occasion on which the people of Israel placed stones, you can read about more in the Old Testament. I added some references in your notes if you want to study this further.
Joshua 4:1-7, Exodus 13:3–6; 24:4; Deuteronomy 27:1–8; Joshua 22:9–12; 24:24–28; 1 Samuel 7:12
Placing stones in my life
Placing these stones was done regularly to help Israel remember what God had done, and it was a way to share their history with the next generation.
It reminds me of when we would drive around town with my dad. We lived in the same city he grew up in, so anytime we passed a place he had worked, he would say: have I ever told you I worked there? It became this passing joke. But it was his way of sharing his life with us.
The Lord wants us to remember the works He has done in our lives, and we should have practices or symbols that help us remember them and share them.
God has done so much for me and in my life and God wants me to remember that.
For me, I don’t collect rocks to remember God’s work. I sit down and write everything that God has done for me, and it reminds me that God does exist. He loves me, He takes care of me, and He carries me through. I have specific instances I can point back to in my life as proof of His work in my life and know that God does see and hear me.
Now, you may think: well…. Anne, that’s great for you, but I have never seen God help me through a trial before, so I don’t have this firsthand proof.
That’s ok. Read on.
What to do if you don’t have a first-hand account
If you don’t have a firsthand account, go back to scripture.
1 Chronicles 16:12 Remember His marvellous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth
You can go through the Bible and read/write how many times God made a promise and kept it, how much He loves you, and last but not least: His death on the cross, the salvation you have, and everything you receive when you become a child of God.
When you don’t have firsthand experience, you can always trust that scripture has proof after proof of God’s power, love, and everything else.
Start with those things, and then, over time, as you see how God provides for you, add it to your list and go back to it repeatedly.
To make this session really practical, I have a bit of homework for you.
I want you to take out some paper and a pen (or a computer doc of some sort) and make a list of
- ALL the ways God has guided you
- ALL the ways God has provided for you
- All the things God has done for you
- All the ways God loves you
If you still can’t think of anything, go to scripture and note
- All the promises God gives us
- The promise of Salvation and the hope we have in heaven
Once you have written this list, keep it handy. Fold the paper and put in your Bible, or save it as a note in your phone. The water you do, keep it somewhere you can easily find it.
Then, the next time you are going through a trial, and you feel discouraged- take out your list and read through it.
Let it remind you of all the ways God has loved you, provided for you, and guided you.
I promise that this one simple exercise will help you turn past struggles into building blocks of faith and help you when you face anything that comes next.
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