The past week has taught me so much, for in this past week were four examples of trials that teach (all stories have been shared with permission). Who knew there was SO MUCH to be learned through trials?
It started with a passage from Luke in the Bible. In this passage from Luke Chapter 1, we meet a couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth who’s been trying to have a child for years upon years. They are both advanced in age, and he is a priest who has his turn serving in the temple. It is here that Zacharias has an encounter with Gabriel, an angel, who tells him that his wife will have a child, and that the child is to be named “John”. Zacharias does not believe this announcement, and is punished by being mute until the fulfillment of the angel’s announcement.
Nine months and eight days pass, the child is born, and they are at the ceremony where the child will be named. It’s upon Zacharias writing the baby’s name on a tablet that the punishment is lifted, and he’s able to speak again.
What does he do as soon as he can speak?
He praises God. The people around him marvel and began talking “all in the hill country of Judea” about this matter and the child, and what the child will turn out to be.
I must ask, since there’s been other records in the Bible of women advanced in years giving birth….would this particular birth have been as widely talked about if it were not for Zacharias’ punishment?
Notice what the people are talking about—a baby. This was all in God’s plan to prepare them for the next baby to be born and talked widely about: the baby Jesus.
God can work ALL things for the good, including punishments. He can be glorified in all situations.
The second trial lesson in my week, was a friend who found a lump on her chest. This friend has been trying through several situations to place ALL her trust in the Lord her God, yet fear just refuses to let her go, and keeps a hold on her. These kinds of lumps come with a flood of questions, appointments, imaging and a biopsy. Quite understandably, they also come with doubts, fear, and hopelessness at times. This friend and I have been praying together, and we can see where this is an opportunity for her to strengthen her faith.
This past weekend, while awaiting the imaging appointment, she’s been encouraged. Hope is starting to replace fear. Strength and trust are beginning to make their arrival as well. There’s light reaching places within that once remained dark. Fear is still there, but faith is gaining ground, and gaining it fast, even in spite of the situation at hand. More correctly, not in spite of, but BECAUSE of the situation at hand.
I must ask again, could this growth of faith happen without an opportunity to exercise it? Would she be making as much ground in her faith journey without this situation? Could it be that God could be using this lump for good?
The third and fourth events happened during a mountain bike race. Our twins’ are on a middle and high school interscholastic league for mountain-biking. This is not only their first year on the team, but it’s their first year on ANY team. There are many others like them that are brand new to the sport of mountain-biking, and they started this journey just a little over three months ago.
The third event involves my son. This was the last race of the season, and he was pumped for this race. It was the first race I even noticed him being nervous about.
For some reason unknown to me at the time, I decided to be in the woods with my husband, rather than be at the start line. In previous races, I remained at the start line cheering, while my husband would be in the woods cheering.
We can hear the countdown of the race start, and after several moments, the racers start to come by our spot in the woods, except we don’t see Aiden at all. One of his teammates amazingly has the presence of thought to tell us as he’s racing by, that “Aiden crashed“.
Here is actual footage of me making my way through the woods and to the start line:
Kidding. Well, sort of. 🙂
Upon arriving to the start line area, I actually almost run past Aiden, as it’s been several minutes, so my mom mind goes to the worse-case scenario. Instead, though, I hear Aiden yelling to his sister, who beat me to him,
“It’s not over yet! I’m GOING to finish this thing!”
I holler to Aiden that I’m so proud of him and I tell him that he can do it! I had NO idea the extent of his crash, I just knew that something lit the fire of determination under him.
Another of his teammates videoed the start, which captured Aiden’s crash. His handlebar caught the racecourse pole marker, as seen in this video:
One of Aiden’s coaches told us Aiden rode harder than he’s ever seen him ride before, and it was the most he’s seen Aiden push himself.
So, I must ask, would Aiden have known the limits he could push himself to, without the crash? Did this trial teach him something about himself he that would have otherwise gone un-learned?
Lastly, the fourth event was an amazing one that defined testing one’s limits, one’s character, and one’s drive and determination. It involved a high school girl on our team, Brennah, who unlike the middle school racers, had to do 2 laps, each lap being 4.3 miles.
Just into her 2nd lap, the chain on her bike snapped. She could’ve received a “DNF” and quit. Instead, she got off her bike and ran it FOUR miles. Word spread that our teammate would be running her bike in, so several of us went down to the wood line, so we could run along side her in support as she made her way to the finish line.
Here’s her amazing finish:
That’s me in the white tee running with another teammate as she made her way toward the finish line. Running that short way up to the finish line made me respect her all the more for doing that same thing for four long miles in the woods.
At the team tent, there was encouragement all around for Brennah. Was she frustrated? Sure, of course, who wouldn’t be?! Yet, I’ll bet she doesn’t even know how much she taught me with her act of determination.
Hers was a perfect picture of what Paul describes in The Bible when he compares living a Christian life with running a race with endurance. Brennah certainly “ran” her race with endurance. She persevered. She pressed on toward the mark, no matter the circumstances. She never gave up. And knowing Brennah, I’m sure she drew her strength from her relationship with the risen Christ. She’s got an awesome testimony from this last race, and I know that someday, somewhere, she’ll use this story to bring glory to God.
The next morning, after the race, I reflected on these two events and the character that was displayed. Sure, I thought about all of our amazing team and their hard work and determination, but…
I must ask…would I have pondered on these two particular racers, were it not for the trials they overcame? AND for the fact that neither of them finished last in their group…that’s how HARD they each persevered!
Sure, one can prepare through each practice, training, and reading about heroes of faith in The Bible, but it’s very hard to simulate exactly what your response would be when that news comes, the crash happens, or the chain breaks.
Each of these examples from my past week make it all the more clear what it means to “work out your faith“, putting it to practice, allowing one’s faith muscle to be strained to it’s limits, so that it may be strengthened for the next trial. For, this life is certainly not free from trials. We are not promised this life would be easy….BUT, trusting God is the most simplistic, yet dynamic, thing one can do. If you have not yet entrusted your life to Christ, I’d love to invite you to do so. Trust, me, you WON’T regret it!!!!
So, here’s to trials that teach! May I view each one with an opportunity to exercise my faith in Christ Jesus, trusting Him with each event, each happening in my life. And when I come through the trial, may I be like Zacharias who immediately praises God for it!
Rather you are about to enter a trial, in the midst of one, or have just come through one, know that you are not alone, and you’ll come out stronger than you were before, as long as you depend on The One who is the Great “I Am”!