Today I want to talk about trials. Not the everyday kind of trials like how to pay your utility bill and what to do when your nanny comes down with the flu, I’m talking about the real, life-changing kind of trials. The ones that you come out on the other side either closer to God or further away.
I am going through a particular trial in my life right now that has turned my world upside down. When we go through this kind of life-shattering event, it can feel like the very foundation of our lives has been shaken. The truth, however, is that, if we are Christians, the foundation of our lives can never be shaken. He is solid even when the world crumbles around us. Even when I am constantly shielding myself from the falling rubble around me, He is firm beneath my feet.
In my head and my heart, I know that is true. But in the midst of this storm it is hard to feel it. Right now all I feel is lost. For now, I just have to cling to what I know. That is that God loves me and He holds me in the palm of His hand. As I have been going through this trial, every time I try to pray about my situation, I can’t find the words that I need to say. I end up just crying and asking God the same kinds of questions over and over. After several days of doing this and getting nowhere, during my prayer time I thought about the words of one of my favorite songs by the band Crossway:
If You took it all away
Every gift You ever gave
The sun that shines in my day
The stars that You display
And if You never blessed again
If You gave another trial instead
If the precious thing that I held
Was stripped out of my hands
I would stand and praise Your Holy Name
If You took it all away
And all I can do is hope that these words would be true in my life, if I were ever really tested. The way that I can be sure that they would be true in my life is to make them true in my current situation, which seems small in comparison to the words of that song. So, I began to praise Him.
Rather than concentrating on my own pain and uncertainty, praising God for all of the things in my life that are solid and certain felt amazing. It was so good to finally have something to focus my energy on other than my tears. In this, God has started the healing process through my praising of Him. When I have no grasp on anything in my life, I can always hold firmly to Him. Even in the harshest storm He is there.
I have discovered that, while sometimes there are very specific things that we need to pray about, there are other times when what we really need is just to be in the healing presence of our Savior who already knows our every need. And there is no better way to get there than by praising Him. Praising God is something that we do because of who He is. He is awesome and holy. He is our Heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer, our Everything, and we praise Him accordingly. We don’t have to be in a good mood to praise Him. We don’t have to feel like everything is ok to praise Him. We don’t have to have peace to praise Him. But through praise we can receive all of those things.
On this most recent emotional roller coaster ride, I have been frantically searching God’s word for comfort, peace and guidance. He has shown me many answers that, just like everything else He does in my life, aren’t exactly what I thought they should be. He has shown me that He is God. He is sovereign. And even when I feel like He is dropping the ball (Lord, please forgive me), He has it all under control. We are the ones who drop the ball. One of the other major things about trials that a lot of people struggle with, including myself, is why they happen to us. I came across a verse in 1 Peter that states it so eloquently:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
So even though I may not understand the ways that God is working in my particular situation, and even though I may cry myself to sleep at night, I cling to God. Though I may feel like there are no words strong enough to express my feelings, I know that God can hear them just the same. He knows me, He loves me and He is refining me. So, I will praise Him in this storm and know that I will come out on the other side with a stronger faith, a faith that glorifies my Savior.