– Henry Ward Beecher
The Trials That Humble Us
Sometimes our church gets prayer requests for nonbelievers or Christians who are choosing to do some foolish things. I think it’s unwise to pray for all of their problems to be solved because we get between the rock (problems) and the hammer (God). If we are constantly running around bailing people out of their problems (actually enabling them), and ones of their own making, we might be interfering with God, Who is trying to shape them by trials on His sovereign anvil. It’s better to pray for God’s will to be done because trials will frequently humble a person and make them seek God, which is what He was trying to do in the first place. If we get between the rock and the hammer, we are trying to end their trials, which God has sent to shape their lives for the better.
The Trials That Conform Us
Trials are what God clearly uses to shape and conform us into His own image (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). I think of Jonah, who had to be swallowed by a giant fish to finally be humbled by God. Only after this did he carry out his mission to witness to Nineveh (Jonah 1:17). Surely if God had not sent this trial to Jonah, he would have kept running and would never have gone on his God-given mission. One way God uses trials to shape us is to humble us and make us see that we have no true purpose outside the will of God.
The Trials That Shape Us
God once told Jeremiah to go to a potter and observe what he did with the clay (Jer. 18:1-6). You probably already know that God is the Potter and we are the clay. A potter must apply pressure to shape the clay so that it is conformed into the image that he desires. Trials have a way of doing that. Pressure shapes us, smoothing out any rough edges, and then the vessel passes through the fire (of trials). This sets the vessel into a particular shape, and only then is the vessel useful. God wants no leaky vessels. Trials (the shaping and the fire) make vessels that can hold what He wants them to hold.
Every Christian needs to understand that they are always on the anvil by God’s design, and it is by trials that God is shaping them for higher things–humbling the clay, conforming the clay, and shaping the clay into what He sees will be best for them and for His own glory.