True troubles! “Without some true trouble, some stress and real strain, I confess much of self would still yet remain.” That couplet popped into my spirit more than 30 years ago, when I was returning home after taking my eleven year old daughter to school. I typed medical dictation at home that year, since the tiny company I had worked for had gone bankrupt, and I pinched each penny. Hard. Back then, although I constantly worried about providing for my daughter and myself, God was teaching me to trust Him and to see whatever hardship came up as loving training from Him. And that lesson is as applicable—and just as hard sometimes—today as it was then.
Regarding wobbliness and wobbly times, so far we have learned that:
 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.
Today, we will consider the following points:
 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!
 Experience is the best teacher. Yes! You can thoroughly practice swimming, on land, but until you are actually in the water. . . You can thoroughly practice rock climbing at the gym, but until you are actually on a mountain. . . You can thoroughly study about trusting God in hard times, but until you are actually in hard times . . .
As I learned years ago when my daughter was little, God sometimes puts us in hard places that make us desperate – for the loving purpose of helping us grow. He is being kind to us. Scripture reassures us that “God is loving toward all He has made.” (Psalm 145:17b, NIV)
During trials, it may feel like God has thrown us in the deep end and left us, but that is merely our flesh reacting. As our human bodies react to threat, so do our soul and spirit. There is an automatic response in our heart when we face what we perceive as danger, just as there is an automatic response in our body when we face a physical threat.
And that is precisely where the possibility for growth comes. In that moment when we feel fear, or discouragement or whatever negative arrows the enemy is shooting at us, we can learn to lean on truth, and—to the extent that we do that (Psalm 33:22)–that truth will set us free from fear and its consequences (John 8:32). If we allow it, the enemy can magnify our natural, human reaction of fear. But, if we turn instead to God, God can turn that fear into strength.
In those moments, as we seek God by meditating on His word constantly (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 and Psalm 1) we can calm our frail, human hearts by focusing our mind on passages like Isaiah 41:10.
“So do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
I remember the morning at the gym when trying to memorize this verse. Holy Spirit helped me reflect: “The all-mighty, all-loving One who made and sustains the universe is right here with me, He Himself, and He adores me. There is no reason to fear. That One is the Person I am depending on, who I am calling and making my God, the Ruler of my life. He has promised to give me strength and to help me and to support me. And that includes this very moment. . . ”
Consider this. How would a loving, compassionate father begin teaching his child, who has never before seen deep water, how to swim? He holds his little boy firmly in his arms while wading slowly in until the boy’s feet are submerged, all while he holds the boy snugly in his arms. The father pauses and splashes the water with his hand, lets the boy play with the water and get used to it and they laugh about it together. Then, the father goes a bit deeper, pausing each time for reassurances and more laughter until finally the water is up to the child’s chest and then the father starts walking through the water, letting the boy experience the feel of water flowing over his little body. That might be enough for the first time. The next time, the father would hold the boy in his arms and let him splash about on his own, while being held, and so on.
That beloved little boy is never endangered although he feels he is! Only the presence and embrace of his father calms him enough to let the lessons proceed. Trials can make us afraid, even terrorized, but we can, through choosing to believe what He says, benefit from the presence and embrace of our Heavenly Father and, step by slow step, learn to use our God-given potential to keep going through trials. Then, when we come to a big trial, we will go right through it, just as a traveler swims across a river that obstructs his path.
As I reflect on my relationship with God, I can see that the trials in the early years were easy compared with trials in recent times. He strengthened me and hardened me to difficulties, as He promises in Isaiah 41:10. So, by God’s grace I now stay steadier through trials and I look for God’s blessings while I walk through them. Experience has taught me the truths of Lamentations 3:19-66—that indeed” The LORD is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word.” (Lamentations 3:25,AMPC)
Beloved, God NEVER abandons us or fails us or lets us down, in any way (Hebrews 13:5).It just feels like it sometimes. And the cure is always trusting and obeying.
 Do trials ever end for the believer? The short answer? No. Why? It is because of the nature of our fallen world, the nature of man, the nature of our enemy, and the nature of God’s plan for mankind. BUT GOD HAS MADE A WAY TO LIVE IN VICTORY AND JOY!
The nature of our fallen world—so long as we live on this earth, we will have troubles. The world is under the curse described in Genesis 3. We will not enjoy the Edenic type of life that God planned for mankind until our inmost beings leave the earthly tabernacle of this flesh and live in the presence of God Himself in heaven. “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward”, Job 5:7 tells us.
The nature of man. So long as we live on this earth, we will struggle with sin (Romans 7:7-25). Psalm 51:5 tells us we are all born as sinners. Romans 3:23 says we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” but verse 22 joyfully proclaims the righteousness which comes “from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Once saved through faith in Jesus, we must keep pursuing and obeying God, as we saw earlier in this writing. No person, except Jesus, has ever been and can ever be good enough. Right before he died, the great apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Phillipi. In Chapter 3 of that letter, he explains why he puts no confidence for salvation in anything he does (or “in the flesh”) but rather he keeps pressing on, he says, toward “the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, NIV) And that was right before Paul died. Think about that!
The nature of our enemy. So long as we live on this earth, Satan will constantly seek to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). For an excellent teaching on the activity of Satan—and a teaching that will calm fear and fill you with hope!–see “Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You”, by John Piper at www.desiringgod.org. Eventually, at the end of time Satan will be “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur . . . and will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10). In the meantime, throughout each of our lifetimes, we can walk in the victory over Satan and sin that Jesus purchased for us.
The nature of God’s plan for mankind–As Genesis 2:16-17 records, God made humans with the freedom of choice, and that includes whether or not we love Him. We can, through Him, choose NOT to sin, as we see in Romans 6:11-14. We can overcome sin, through offering our whole selves to God and choosing to love and serve Him (Joshua 24:15).
If we truly love God more than all else, we will place more value on heavenly things than things of this life. If we “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2, NIV). We will then be empowered to consider what we learn through trials of greater value than whatever inconvenience, hard work and even suffering trials may cause.
In light of all that, we can be encouraged and accept trials as part of life and as of no more consequence than the fact that we must keep breathing, eating, sleeping, etc. as long as we live. Certain things are just part of life.
And our life can be abundant! We can choose to believe what Jesus told us in John 16:33, that in Him we:
“may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have troubles, trials, distress, and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
For me, investing time and energy in meditating on and memorizing that Scripture and many others has gone far in developing a better attitude than I once had about the trials of daily life.
 The more we wobble, the less we will. So here we sit, you in the trials and temptations of this day in your individual life and me with mine. No matter where you are and what you are doing, God is right there, watching over you, loving You. So, I pray,
“May He strengthen you with power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit [Himself] indwelling your innermost being and personality). May Christ through our faith, [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, and make His permanent home in your heart!” (Ephesians 3:16-17a, AMPC)
Here I sit, using an alternative word processor program, my three favorite Bible translations opened on my desk, pausing to look out the window and stroke Lilly as I think of a word, and also pausing every fifteen minutes to stretch. Most of the trials described at the start of this blog are still present, but I am making great spiritual progress precisely because of and through the difficulties. God is working His strength into my heart. He is training me to keep my mind better fixed on things above (Colossians 3:2) and He is doing that through my experiencing the difficulties of life on this earth. Just as using the wobble board in physical therapy improved my balance, so do trials improve my innate wobbliness. The more I wobble, the less I will!
Oh, trust Him! Lean on Him and hope, with confidence, in Him! Wait on Him. He has not failed you, and He never will. He is training you through hardship and trials because He loves you and it is for your safety and your good. His mercy and loving kindness are upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping in Him (Psalm 33:22), so wait patiently on Him! God is good to those who wait on Him (Lamentations 3:25). Like the eagle, turn your face into your storm and spread your wings of faith. Let God use the very storm that threatens you to cause you to mount up with Him and renew your strength!
P.S. Just for you, dear friend:
As I sat in the sun, purposefully getting vitamin D, proof-reading this piece of writing, God sent a hawk soaring right in front of my eyes as I reclined on the lounge chair beside the pool. I see hawks fairly often in the neighborhood close by when I walk there but never this far. And that is not all . . .
As I sat, frantically scribbling, trying to describe the beauty and awe of watching that one hawk soar right above my head, back and forth, surfing the invisible currents of air, the sun shone through its outstretched wings, revealing the tips were lighter colored than the rest of those long wings. As I sat writing with part of my mind, with the other part, I was thinking:
A spiritual message. . . There is a spiritual message in the fact that I could not see the wind on which the hawk was soaring, just as non-believers do not see the wind on which we believers soar through troubles. But non-believers are watching and they know something unseen is helping us. Whether they “believe” in the Power they cannot see or not, they are still seeing that Power in action and our soaring gives God the means to demonstrate His power to them.
A word from Holy Spirit? . . . Then, while jotting those thoughts down, I felt a powerful urge to write that Holy Spirit says someone reading this will be enabled to soar in victory through their trial.
Self doubt. . . replaced with boldness! How dare I, little old me, say that? I am not like the powerful prophets and teachers of God I see and hear that I should say such a thing. But then, praise God, faith, truth and obedience overcame those lies of the devil as God’s truths bubbled up from within: that timidity and fear did not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7), God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), God does train those who are willing to hear His voice clearly (John 10:27-29, Isaiah 30), and I could trust God and be bold (Jeremiah 1:8).
Obedience brings blessing (Luke 11:28) and when we use what we have, God gives even more (Luke 19:11-27). The moment I made up my mind to write that statement—that Holy Spirit was saying someone would be empowered to soar when they read these words—that very moment, friend, I saw a small group (called a “kettle” I later learned) of hawks suddenly appear in my field of vision, straight ahead. And that first hawk (had he been scouting?) began circling them.
“It is a whole host of them, Lord!”, I thought, “like an army! It is like a picture of Your body of believers, faithfully soaring on the wings of Your wind, following along obediently, and, like eagles, using the very trials surrounding them to soar high up, with You, where You want them to go.”
“It’s like Your believers today, in the United States and the world, who choose to believe and to know You are still on Your throne, in the midst of the apparent victory of evil and wickedness. We know You are working ‘everything out for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose’, as You say in Romans 8:28. As we trust in You and face the future with faith, You lift us up, to heavenly places with You.
I watched, open-mouthed, eyes squinting, as the kettle of hawks soared back and forth, each following a different path, left, then right, each at a slightly different height, like fish in an aquarium, like children playing on an azure playground. Then, as if hearing a command, they began soaring northward, one after the other, one or two at a time, until the last one faded to a black dot then vanished. I could see them no longer, but as I gazed in that direction, I knew they were there, steadily, continuing their journey, returning to their home.
Dear dear reader, I believe God wants you to know:
He hears your cry in your trial, He wants you to know He has good plans for you, He has not let go of Your hand. He never will loosen His grip on you or forsake you or leave you helpless. He will give you strength and everything else you need to walk through this trial, and you will not even smell like smoke when it is over.
Oh, fellow pilgrim! Just trust and keep His Word in your mind and in your mouth! God hears the cries of the righteous! His mercy and loving-kindness will be upon us in proportion to our waiting and hoping in Him. Wait and hope in the Lord, with confident expectation! He is right there with you and He is working for your good! Our loving, all-mighty, ageless, eternal Father in heaven is loving and kind and compassionate and faithful and merciful and good – all the time!