Our attitude toward trials. Our attitude toward trials and our ability to “make progress upon the dangerous heights of testing and trouble” (Psalm 18:32-33) is of vital importance for the believer. When I began this writing, I intended to make it short; however, God showed me I needed to study and think deeply about this topic. And that is how I uncovered 10 truths that we will explore in this three-part series. Keeping these truths in mind is gradually giving me a better attitude about the difficulties of daily life and the occasional seeming disasters we all face. May God grant us great grace to see trials from His perspective! We will cover the first three points today about times when we wobble.
Wobbliness and wobbly times:
 We learn more when our way is wobbly.
 Trials (times that make us wobble) are good for us.
 Trials teach us things we learn no other way.
 Trials are necessary for the continuing growth that is part of Christian maturity.
 Trials protect us from the deadly condition of complacency.
 We CAN make progress during trials because God equips us with what we need.
 No matter what happens, we can–like Habakkuk–be confident that God will get us through the trial.
 Experience, the best teacher? YES!
 Do trials ever end for the believer?
 The more we wobble, the less we will.
P.S. Just for you, dear friend!
I wobbled last week. Did you? Our loving heavenly Father has such a sense of humor! While skimming the internet about improving balance, since spiritual balance is the subject of this writing, I saw a video of four young girls walking in rapid tandem across a balance beam. Next came a video of an, uh, older man staggering from side to side as he tried to walk on what looked like a deflated fire hose lying flat on the ground. Guess which one I felt like? Ha.
Growing up with two brothers and a father who coached Little League deepened my natural tomboy tendencies and helped ensure I would be picked early in playground games during elementary school. However, junior high gymnastics taught me much about embarrassment. I had grown several inches that summer, and I watched as my shorter classmates (which was all of them!) did fairly well on the balance beam set a few inches off the ground. However, Coach Bunny Crippen kindly shook her head and smiled as I repeatedly failed to take more than one step without falling off. “That’s okay, Freda. Good job trying!”
Well, I am happy to say I am better at keeping my spiritual balance than I was at walking the balance beam, by the grace of God! Why is that? Because God has lovingly given me lots of practice, and then more practice, like all last week. . .
Teetering, leaning, and wild waving of arms. I sniffed, yet again, blew my nose, yet again, squinted my watery eyes, and stood up to take an allergy pill. I opened my eyes wide in a futile effort to shake off the drowsiness caused by allergies and rolled my shoulders in an effort, also futile, to alleviate the stiffness. I chugged a full glass of home-made ginger tea with the pill, then twisted side to side a few times and reached overhead, one arm at a time, twenty times each side, in an also futile attempt to shrink the roll of just plain fat that had taken up residence at my waist for lo too many months. My loud “Ugh!” startled Lilly, my calico beauty napping next to the computer. “Why does the weight keep going up? I don’t know what else to do. I am trying . . . “
I sat back down, stared into the creamy beige of lukewarm coffee, scratched Lilly’s head, and scrolled up and down, up and down the document, labeling pages and paragraphs. Then came twenty minutes cutting, pasting and reordering paragraphs that had scrambled themselves like so many eggs during the the last two days of editing and re-editing one simple chapter. Finally, the line of thought flowed and I hit save.
I stared in silence a full sixty seconds, I think, at the pop-up “File Permission Error. . . “ Last week, my son-in-law, my technical support hero, had spent hours fixing that problem, which was far, far beyond my capabilities. “Ohhhhh!” I wailed. The family was out of town this week.
Two hours later, with blood pressure elevated, shoulders even tighter, eyes aching, and head throbbing, I gave up and made notes on paper of the order in which I had arranged paragraphs on the computer file which would NOT SAVE!!!–beautiful, gorgeous paper that never said “file Permission Error” or “Read-Only File”. By then it was time to start dinner, and too late to tidy up the frustration-inducing clutter, which had crept into my little condo like an invasive vine during the last three days of writing angst. It was also too late to take my little evening walk which would have eased emotional as well as physical kinks. And. . .
Whew and UGH! Sound familiar? I am sure it does, though the details of your “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” week are no doubt different. (For a most excellent book to teach children that we all have bad days, see “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” by Judith Viorst.) But, I learned much from the wobbling, things like the fact that: we learn more when our way is wobbly.
 We learn more when our way is wobbly. All last week had been like that one day and as the days wore on, old bad habits had threatened to steal my hard-won peace. Each new and ongoing frustration grabbed my attention more and more, leaving less mental space and energy to keep my mind on God, talk with Him and ponder a passage of the Word as I went about the business of daily life. The day I described above had been the last straw. And that turned out to be a very good thing.
“Ha!” I said out loud to the devil as I fixed supper. “You are not going to steal one more hour of my peace. God says He laughs at you and that you are already defeated so I can laugh at what you are trying to do, too. I know Romans 8:28 is true, and Genesis 50:20, and Psalm 94:12-13! I am going to rejoice in this very day and this very hour because God has made it, He is right here with me, and He will never, no never, no never fail me in any way! He is good in all that He does, He rules everything that is and was and is to come, and He adores me! My name is written in the palm of His hand, He sings over me, HE delights in me, and He watches my every step with care, and He is using all of this to teach me, and . . . “
Guess what? Before I knew it, I was truly rejoicing and truly laughing then making an outline of this blog post. So, why, when we are trying our best to love and serve Him, does God let us experience hard things that make us wobble? God answers this question clearly in His Word.
[2\ Trials—times that make us wobbly–are good for us. God allows trials—things that make us wobble-because He loves us and they are good for us. God lovingly tells us in Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV) “My son, (notice the tenderness here in the words “My son”) do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son He delights in.”
The whole chapter of Hebrews 12 overflows with encouragement and wisdom. Verses 1 through 4 tell us to throw off everything that hinders us from running our race and says that if we “Fix our eyes on Jesus” and think about what he endured from sinful men we “will not grow weary and lose heart.” Because. . .
(v. 4) “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (v. 5) And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: (v. 6) ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son’.
(v. 7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? (v. 8) If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (v. 9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! (v. 10) Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. (v. 11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been exercised by it.
(12)THEREFORE , strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. (13) ‘Make level paths for your feet’, SO THAT the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (NIV)
Please, please stop and ponder Hebrews 12:4-12 s-l-o-w-l-y. I feel I should underline every word of this passage. Please also take time to read and ponder this life-giving passage in the Amplified Classic version, which you can find at www.biblegateway.com. Getting these truths deep into our spirit is the foundation of a godly attitude toward trials.
These verses state clearly that enduring the discipline of trials leads us to share in His holiness and eventually produces righteousness and peace once we have been trained by those trials. (Hebrews 12:10-12). Did you catch that? Trials train us. It is clear to me that we must continue through the training experience and not bail out. We must persevere SO THAT so we may become mature (James 1:4-8.) As we cooperate with God through trials and let Him produce righteousness and peace in our lives, we are serving Christ and are pleasing to God and approved by men because “ the kingdom of God is . . . a matter of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17-18, NIV)
 Trials teach us things we learn no other way. Understanding the truth of Psalm 94:12-13 gives a godly perspective on trials, which is that we are truly blessed when God uses trials to teach us.
“Blessed-happy, fortunate, [to be envied]–is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law that You may give him the power to hold himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.” (AMPC)
These verses tell us that God instructs us, by using His law, SO THAT He can give us the power to keep ourselves calm in hard times. Think about that. Could you give, or teach, your toddler the ability to balance himself and walk by himself and get himself up off the ground if you hold him perfectly upright every step he takes and if you put him back on his feet each time he falls down? God has to let us wobble and fall down sometimes, too, so that we learn how to keep our balance, even on rough terrain. And when we do fall, He has to hold back and let us scramble around until we finally push ourselves up and get to a standing position again.
I believe some of our trials come because of mistakes we make as we learn to walk more closely with God and some trials God allows, out of His boundless love, so that we can gain better balancing skill.
We learn by experiencing cause and effect, by experiencing the natural consequences of our actions. How does a toddler learn balance? He learns by experiences with the law of gravity. If a toddler leans too far forward, he wobbles or falls; through that experience, the law of gravity teaches him. When a person steals, he eventually lands in jail. Through that experience, the law of man teaches him. If I let my mind dwell on negatives, I become fearful. Through that experience, the law of God teaches me. We learn how to stay spiritually balanced by experiences with the laws of God, when we get the natural consequences of our right or wrong actions and thoughts. The corrections that come from discipline lead us to life (Proverbs 6:23)
Next week, we will begin by considering the statement “Trials are necessary for the continuing growth that is part of Christian maturity.” Do you agree? Why or why not? Think about it!