This morning’s Morning and Evening is a beautifully written reminder that trials serve a greater purpose in the exercise of our faith. Spurgeon provides striking illustrations of glowworms, stars, and soldiers. In each case, today’s thesis is simply this: real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.
At the center of this morning’s devotional, an interesting question is thrown onto the table.
It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?
The answer to that one is easy. No, Charles, I wasn’t. That’s absurd. But then he answers the question with another question…
For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised?
Oh… yeah… there is that. Thankfully we have a good and gracious Savior who sympathizes with our weakness. He will not give us more than we are able to bear, nor fail to redeem those who belong to Him. When the darkness comes, it is not because evil won the fight that day… Take heart! Even the darkness has its uses in the hands of a sovereign God.
Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.
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…you contend against me. — Job 10:2
Perhaps, weary soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces. There are some of your graces that would never be discovered if it were not for your trials. Do you not know that your faith never looks as good in summer as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glowworm, showing but little light unless it is surrounded by darkness.
Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine brighter. It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised? Depend upon it—God often sends us trials so that our graces may be discovered and that we may be convinced of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery; real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.
God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and subjecting them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many long miles with heavy backpacks of sorrow. Well, Christian, may this not account for the troubles through which you are passing? Is the Lord bringing out your graces and making them grow? Is it for this reason He contends with you?
Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.