It’s cliché, but this post is about what I’m thankful for this year. We spent time reflecting on the things we’re thankful for at church last night, complete with paper to make a written list. I’m not really into that sort of thing, but it did make me think. On my list?
#3 I thank God for my trials.
I’m not really grateful for the trials in and of themselves. They are/were incredibly painful. However, in the trials, in being stripped of the very things that I thought I needed or I thought made my life complete, I’ve learned what really matter.
It’s taking repeated trials for the Vine Keeper to tenderly prune my life of the things for me to understand this. He’s removed the distractions, idols, bruises, aches, and pains that tend to come in life. He’s worked on the areas of my character that were in desperate need of improvement. He’s done all that He could to bring me closer to Him. Because that’s the reason we endure trials, in my opinion.
There’s a lyric that captures this well:
How I long to be broken…
I’m a stubborn person and I need to be broken. My flesh gets its way more than it should. Yet, I don’t often long to be broken. Who really wants to be broken? It’s painful to have parts of your life pruned (however tenderly or purposefully) to produce better results. Most of us might understand the value of the breaking process, but we do not long for it.
But we know that enduring hardships, trials, and discipline is for our good. The author of Hebrews understood the value. He writes that a father disciplines his children out of love, for the good of his children. Discipline is painful, but not without purpose:
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)
Beth Moore agrees,
Hardship has a place in the believer’s life because “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2. Cor. 4:17). when we’re going through difficulties, they never seem light or momentary, but remember that Paul is comparing them to “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” […] We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Incidentally, unbelievers also suffer many hardships. The difference is this: ours are never in vain. (To Live is Christ, 2001, pp. 82, 85)
Hardships and trials bring good result, if we let them.
When a sheep has wandered away from the flock too many times, the shepherd will lovingly break its legs. How is that loving, right? The shepherd then carries that sheep on his shoulders until it heals and knows not to wander away. Even though the shepherd is the one that broke the sheep’s legs and inflicted great pain, he is the one to carry the sheep through that pain. He carries the hardship that he created for the sheep. Moreover, though the sheep might not recognize the grace of the shepherd in breaking its legs, the shepherd was keeping the sheep for harm or death by not allowing it to continue to wander away to danger. See the metaphor that the creates for us who are in Christ?
So this year, I’m grateful for the trials. It has been a difficult two years and I’ve often thought the loneliness and despair would overcome me, but all along the Shepherd who put me here has carried me. Help me to long to be broken.