"Why God Allows Trials" -- Part I

by Gerald R. Nash

Disappointments, sadness, pain, and loneliness come to all of us. “Why must this terrible experience happen to
me?” many ask. “How can a loving God permit this tragedy?” “Is He dead?” “Why is He called good, merciful, and
long-suffering while every day men and women are crushed by agonies almost beyond endurance?”

Everyone asks these questions -- those who hate God, as well as Christians who are bewildered and confused
by disappointments. When sorrow comes it is natural for human beings to question, doubt, and blame.

Yet God never promised us a trouble-free existence. He knows that temporary suffering in this life is necessary to
prepare us for the life to come. The Scripture plainly states that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution;” that “whom the Lord loveth He chaseneth.” 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 12:6.

We don’t need to look far to see that non-Christians meet reverses and anguish. Much of this sorrow is the result
of their own sins. We cannot escape the law of cause and effect. Some disasters result from ignorance and
human error. Devastating fires and explosions have destroyed life and property because someone dropped a
burning cigarette in the wrong place. When catastrophes like these happen, many think that it is God’s will. Some
even believe disasters are punishments from God.

But Jesus refuted the “punishment from God” theory one day when He and His disciples met a man blind from
birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Whose sin was it that caused him to be born blind? His own or his parents’
sin?” Jesus answered: “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins.” John 9:2, 3 (TEV).

Another time, after Pilate killed a group of Galileans while they worshipped God, Christ asked, “Do you thing it
proves that they were worse sinners than all the other Galileans? No! I tell you that if you do not change your
ways, you will all dies as they did. What about those eighteen in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on
them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem? No! I tell
you that if you do not change you ways, you will all die as they did.” Luke 13:2-5 (TEV).

Besides disasters from human mistakes, natural disasters also cause misery and death. “Even now he [Satan] is
at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific
hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms,
Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts
to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence.” -- {1}

All Will be Made Plain -- Although we cannot understand the reasons for every tragedy or disappointment, the
promise is, “All that has perplexed us in the providences of God will in the world to come be made plain.” -- {2}

For years I have carried in my Bible this quotation: “He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be
led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose that they are fulfilling.” --
{3}

When sorrow, pain, problems, criticisms, disappointments, and other difficulties come, we want to cry out, “Surely,
Father, these bad things can’t be food for me.” And back comes the answer, “Yes, My child, all these things are
working together for your benefit. Believe Me, I am permitting only that which will enrich your life or make you a
blessing to others. I love you more than you can understand. All that concerns you concerns Me too. But I am
preparing you to dwell with Me forever. Don’t doubt or question My purpose. Trust Me implicitly, and everything
will work together for your good.”

An infidel doctor took his horse to a blacksmith to be shod. The blacksmith, who had just become a Christian, was
experiencing one problem after another in his personal life. “It seems strange to me,” the doctor said before
leaving, “that so much affliction should pass your way just at the time you joined the church and became a
Christian. Of course I don’t want to weaken your new-found faith or anything,” he continued, “But here you are
trying to do your best, praying for God’s help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse. I
can’t help wondering why it is I never seem to have any troubles, and I make no profession at all.”

The Christian blacksmith thought a moment before he answered: “See this piece of iron?” he asked, holding up
some red-hot metal. “This will become carriage springs, springs which must carry a heavy load. I’ve worked on it
for some time. I heat it hot, then plunge it quickly into a tub of water. I do this again and again. If I find it takes
tempering, I pound it and pound it unmercifully. If after a test or two of this kind I find it won’t take tempering, I
throw it into that scrap heap over there.”

“Behold,” God says, “I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah
48:10.

“The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried, and smelted, and polished, and glorified through
the furnace of tribulation,” wrote Edwin Hubbell Chapin.

God does the tempering in our lives. Should our prayer not be, “Test me, prove me, Lord; but don’t cast me onto
the scrap heap?”

All Things Work Together for Good -- Romans 8:28 promises that “all things work together for good to them that
love God.” Yet this is hard to believe.

The individual whose faith encompasses this text walks in fellowship with God. While “all things work together for
good to them that love God,” all things are not necessarily good in themselves. The good and the evil work
together for the benefit of those who love God.

If Romans 8:28 read, “Some things work together for good,” or “Most things work together for good,” then it would
not be difficult to believe. It is that little word “all” that causes the problem. Because we are so prone to doubt, it is
hard for us to take God at His word. Nevertheless the fact remains, God promises that good things, bad things,
all things, will be used as stepping-stones in our Christian experience if we love the Lord and allow Him to lead
us. “All our suffering and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions
and privations, in short, all things work together for our good.” -- {4}

The promise is that if God is controlling our lives, the final result of everything will be for good. “My hand is upon
the wheel, and I will not allow men to control . . . . My hand is turning the wheel, and My providence will continue
to work out the divine plans, irrespective of human inventions.” -- {5}

The mysteries of grace will unfold before us. Where we saw only confusion before, we shall discover perfect
harmony. And we shall be happy knowing that infinite love ordered the difficult experiences.

“He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour,
who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. he has no need to resist evil,
for Christ is his defense. nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are
permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’

“Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the
one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.

“As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will ‘keep the feet of His saints.’ 1 Samuel 2:9. “As we commit
our ways to Him, He will direct our steps.” -- {6}

Temptations -- “The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something
precious which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not
spend time in refining us. He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is valuable ore that He refines.
The blacksmith puts the iron and steel into the fire that he may know what manner of metal they are. The Lord
allows His chosen ones to be placed in the furnace of affliction to prove what temper they are of and whether
they can be fashioned for His work.” -- {7}

Temptation and trial are everyday parts of life. Satan continually induces us to stop loving and trusting God.
While Satan tempts everyone, he especially attacks those determined to be like Christ.

The apostle Peter admonishes all Christians, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.

The lion is a good example of how the devil works. He approaches stealthily, and unless we are on guard we will
be unable to resist his attack.

Temptation should drive us to the Lord in prayer. Every time we yield, we grow weaker in that point. But each
temptation resisted strengthens character.

When the temptation seems more than we can endure, remember the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There
hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be
tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to
bear it.”

God’s personal message is, I won’t let you be tempted beyond your ability to resist. our Creator knows how much
temptation we can stand. Bridges usually have signs reading, “Load limit, 5 tons,” or “Load limit, 10 tons.”
Crossing with a heavier load invites disaster.

A severe test may be a sign of God’s confidence. Before Satan stripped Job of property, children, and wealth,
God knew his “load limit.” He knew that Job would remain faithful. In the same way God keeps our “load limit” in
mind, and He won’t allow Satan to tempt us beyond that limit.

God apportions to each what he can bear and no more. Our Saviour assures us that with every temptation he will
make a way of escape. He doesn’t do this by removing the temptation, but by giving us strength to overcome.
Wherever we are and however strong the temptation, Jesus is by our side, saying, “I will strengthen thee; yea, I
will help thee.” Isaiah 41:10.

“If we venture on Satan’s ground we have no assurance of protection from his power. So far as in us lies, we
should close every avenue by which the tempter may find access to us.” -- {8} Don’t walk into temptation. Don’t
despair when temptation comes, but be confident that through God’s grace you will triumph. God prepares an
escape route for every temptation.

God never tempts anyone to sin. “God cannot be tempted with evil and He Himself tempts no one.” James 1:13,
RSV. The only guarantee against yielding to temptation is Christ in the heart. he will never abandon the person
for whom He died. “Live in contact with the living Christ, and He will hold you firmly by a hand that will never let
go.” -- {9} And remember, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is sage.”
Proverbs 18:10.

God brings good out of evil and uses temptations to bring us back to Him. These experiences purify and
discipline. They cause us to abhor evil and to desire only the good. Because He loves us He permits temptations
to come to us. God’s Wise Overall Plan

God would like to make us rich, famous, successful, to give us every desire of our hearts; but He dare not do it.
Our nature is too weak to bear much prosperity. We grow proud and independent and feel no need of Him when
things are going smoothly.

So He removes one by one the things that separate us from Him. Sometimes it is health, strength, wealth, fame,
or the one whom we love and on whom we lean most. It is hard to be crushed and broken, but He permits it
because He loves us and wants to save us. “For whom the Lord loveth He chaseneth, and scourgeth every son
whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the
father chaseneth not?” Hebrews 12:6, 7.

No one welcomes hardship. We don’t schedule or plan for trouble. When it comes, it is an unhappy surprise. We
react in a variety of ways -- self-pity, depression, bitterness. Yet none of these is the reaction God wants.

“Yet, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou are our Potter; we are all the work of Thy hand.”
Isaiah 64:8, (RSV). The Lord is our Potter; we are the clay; the potter’s wheel represents heaven’s grace and life’
s varying experiences.

The Divine Potter -- In the divine Potter’s plan, forces and influences from above and below work together to
mold our characters. Frequent marring of the clay vessel is necessary to remove flaws resulting from non
pliability.

So the great Potter of our lives often mars or crushes us. We force Him to, but our stubborn resistance to His
grace and our rebellion against the problems of life.

The Lord doesn’t mar and crush in order to reject us ultimately. But if after renewed operation the once resistant
soul yields to Him, He will mold it into a vessel of usefulness. No life is beyond His transforming touch. “The vessel
that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good
to the potter to make it.” Jeremiah 18:4. Luther's translation says: “So he made another vessel out of it, as
pleased him.”

No, our heavenly Potter does not mar to discard, but as with clay, he repeatedly “molds it,” “kneads it and works
it. he tears it apart and presses it together. . . . He lets it lie. . . . He forms it into shape and on the wheel trims and
polishes it. He dries it in the sun and bakes it in the oven. Thus it becomes a vessel fit for use.” -- {10}

He mars our wayward and unpliable lives only to make them more noble. he tears them down, only to build them
up more beautifully. He crushes them, only to make them more whole. He wounds them, only to give them
permanent healing.

The potter, after molding the vessel into the desired shape, bakes it in the oven. The furnace heat transforms the
clay into a strong and beautiful vessel.

He makes sure that no two vessels touch while baking, because they must bake separately or else when they are
broken apart for use, both will be flawed. In God’s great plan for our lives we must stand alone in the furnace of
affliction. And yet we are not alone. Christ is with us. God permits us to be marred and refined that we may
develop individual characters. He wants us to triumph as individuals, to be among those who have come “out of
great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14.

The Molding Not Enjoyed, But Endured -- The Lord does not expect us to enjoy the molding process, but He
wants us to endure it patiently. When the apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:4, “I am exceeding joyful in all our
tribulation,” he did not mean that he enjoyed being stoned or having those he loved turn against him. But he
rejoiced because those experiences brought him closer to God. Chastening would do for his character that which
nothing else could do. The psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy
statutes.” Psalm 119:71.

“We are heaven-bound, and we should show the attractive part of our faith. We should not go as a crippled band
of mourners, groaning and complaining all along the journey to our Father’s house.

“Those professed Christians who are constantly complaining, who seem to think happiness and a cheerful
countenance a sin, have not the genuine attributes of religion. Those who look upon nature’s beautiful scenery
as they would upon a dead picture; who choose to look upon dead leaves rather than to gather the beautiful
flowers; who take a mournful pleasure in all that is melancholy in the language spoken to them by the natural
world; who see no beauty in valleys clothed in living green, and grand mountain heights clothed with verdure;
who close their senses to the joyful voice that speaks to them in nature . . . -- these are not in Christ.

“Suppose we change this order of things. . . . Suppose you try to count all your blessing. you have thought so
little upon them, and they have been so continual, that when reverses or afflictions come, you are grieved, and
think God is unjust. you do not call to mind how little gratitude you have manifested for all the blessings of God.
You have not deserved them; but because they have flowed in upon you day by day, year by year, you have
looked upon them as a matter of course, thinking it was your right to receive every advantage, and give nothing
in return. . . . The blessings of God are more that the hairs of our head, more than the sands of the seashore.
Meditate upon his love and care for us, and may it inspire you with love that trials cannot interrupt nor afflictions
quench.

“If we could only see the many dangers from which we are daily preserved by the holy angels, instead of
complaining of our trials and misfortunes, we would talk continually of the mercies of God.” --{11}

It is natural to be grateful for God’s many blessings -- such as health, home, and prosperity. But do we also thank
Him for tribulation? Are we grateful for the problems which contribute depth and solidity to our characters?
Specifically, how do we feel about:

a. The sorrow that makes us sympathetic? b. The pain that leaves its deposit of patience in our lives? c. The
problem that drives us to think? d. The criticism that compels us to check up on ourselves? e. The
disappointments that keep us humble? f. The difficulties that keep us dependent upon God?

All these and a thousand other things are worth more to us than the many easy victories which produce no
growth. God’s Chosen Agency

Today let us thank God for the troubles which help us grow more like Him. “The trials of life are God’s workmen,
to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their
burnishing and polishing, is a painful process. . . . But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the
heavenly temple.” -- {12}

“One evening a gentleman who was much depressed because of deep affliction was walking in a garden, where
he observed a pomegranate tree nearly cut through the stem. Greatly wondering, he asked the gardener why the
tree was in this condition, and he received an answer that explained to his satisfaction the wounds of his own
bleeding heart. “Sir,” said the gardener, “this tree used to shoot out so strong that it bore nothing but leaves. I
was obliged to cut it in this manner; and when it was almost cut through, it began to bear fruit.”

“Our sorrows do not spring out of the ground. In every affliction God has a purpose to work out for our good.
Every blow that destroys an idol, every providence that weakens our hold upon earth and fastens our affections
more firmly upon God, is a blessing. The pruning may be painful for a time, but afterward it “yieldeth that
peaceable fruit of righteousness.” We should receive with gratitude whatever will quicken the conscience, elevate
the thoughts, and ennoble the life. The fruitless branches are cut off and cast into the fire. Let us be thankful that
through painful pruning we may retain a connection with the living Vine; for if we suffer with Christ, we shall also
reign with Him. The very trial that taxes our faith the most severely and makes it seem as though God had
forsaken us is to lead us more closely to Him, that we may lay all our burdens at the feet of Christ and experience
the peace which He will give us in exchange. . . . God loves and cares for the feeblest of His creatures, and we
cannot dishonor Him more than by doubting His love to us. O let us cultivate that living faith that will trust Him in
the hour of darkness and trial!” -- {13}

“Christ will never abandon the soul for whom He has died. The soul may leave Him and be overwhelmed with
temptation; but Christ can never turn from one for whom He has paid the ransom of His own life. Could our
spiritual vision be quickened, we should see souls bowed under oppression and burdened with grief, pressed as
a cart beneath sheaves, and ready to die in discouragement. We should see angels flying swiftly to aid these
tempted ones, who are standing as on the brink of a precipice. The angels from heaven force back the hosts of
evil that encompass these souls, and guide them to plant their feet on the sure foundation. The battles waging
between the two armies are as real as those fought by the armies of the world, and on the issue of the spiritual
conflict eternal destinies depend.

“To us, as to Peter, the word is spoken, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I
have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Thank God, we are not left alone.” --[14}

“To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time
when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. “The Lord
knoweth how to deliver the godly.” 2 Peter 2:9. From ever . . . trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a
richer experience.” -- {15}

Never Alone -- The promise is, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers,
they shall not overflow thee.” Isaiah 43:2.

Jesus assures us, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. What more can we
ask?

“Through all our trials we have a never-failing Helper. He does not leave us alone to struggle with temptation, to
battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. Though now He is hidden from mortal sight, the
ear of faith can hear His voice saying, Fear not; I am with you. “I am He that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I
am alive forevermore.” Revelation 1:18. I have endured your sorrows, experienced your struggles, encountered
your temptations. I know your tears; I have also wept. The griefs that lie too deep to be breathed into any human
ear, I know. Think not that you are desolate and forsaken. Though your pain touch no responsive chord in any
heart on earth, look unto Me, and live. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness
shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on
thee.” Isaiah 54:10. -- {16}

The Fruitage of the Plan -- Disappointments and difficulties develop patience in us. And patience is the first-
mentioned grace of redemption. “Here is the patience of the saints,” declared John the revelator. Only those who
“let patience have her perfect work,” in their lives will become “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” They are the
ones who will live forever where nothing will annoy or harass.

When little trials of life make us irritable, we should ask God for patience. Because we fail to see our problems as
God sees them, and can’t understand them as He can, we misinterpret His dealings with us. Since our concept of
the Lord is limited, we often doubt His love.

“The ways of the Lord are obscure to him who desires to see things in a light pleasing to himself. they appear
dark and joyless to our human nature. But God’s ways are ways of mercy and the end is salvation.” -- {17}

How encouraging it would be if we could remember that every dark storm has a heavenly side, ablaze with God’s
light and glory. Our view of human suffering is so limited. We interpret problems and disappointments negatively,
always afraid they will ruin us. We forget that the Lord permits them for our growth. We must receive heavenly
eyesalve to help us see clearly from God’s point of view. Only then shall we recognize love in all life’s
experiences. When we see our trials from God’s viewpoint, we will recognize them as His agents, helping prepare
us for a place in heaven.

Trials A Part of Education -- “Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children
from the dross of earthliness.” -- {18} Christ Himself entered this school of affliction in order to understand by
experience man’s side of the question. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He
suffered.” Hebrews 5:8. How much more do we, mere humans beings, need to learn the lessons our heavenly
Father has for us.

Even though we don’t understand all the reasons, we know that God wants to turn our every experience toward
developing a Christlike character. How are we to relate to difficulties and disappointments? Certainly not by hard,
disgruntled feelings. Not with discouragement. “The more you dwell upon discouragement, talking to others about
your trials and enlarging upon them, to enlist the sympathy which you crave, the more discouragements and trials
you will have.” -- {19} There is a wise and loving purpose in every experience that God permits to come to us.

“And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold
and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:3. A woman, anxious to
understand the true import of this statement, called on a silversmith. “Please tell me the refining process for
silver,” she asked. he described it to her. “But,” she said, “do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”

“Oh, yes,” the silversmith replied, “I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace for if the time necessary for
refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver is sure to be injured. When I see my own image reflected in
the silver, I know that the refining is completed.”

Not for one moment longer than is necessary does Christ subject us to the refining process. he permits the fire,
not to destroy us, but to purify, ennoble, and sanctify us. He yearns to see His image reflected in us. “God in His
great love is seeking to develop in us the precious graces of His Spirit. He permits us to encounter obstacles,
persecutions, and hardships, not as a curse, but as the greatest blessing of our lives.” -- {20}

Go to "Why God Allows Trials" -- Part II