Why does God allow trials?


I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction, and knew my anguish of soul. Psalm 31:7 NIV

Of all the tough questions Jesus asked—and there are many in the Gospels—is his question while hanging on the cross: “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”

The Apostle Paul in his writings deals with this very issue of affliction and anguish. He gives us hope that God is with us. He writes as one who is an expert on this subject. “Therefore since God in his mercy has given us this ministry, we never give up…We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:9 NLT) He uses terms from the Greek athletic arena for emphasis here. These latter sports words, from the boxing matches, could also read: knocked down, never counted out!

In other words, Paul tells us that in his victorious front lines ministry he has not been given a free pass nor a get-out-of-jail free card. If you are planning to play the ukulele you probably will not get hurt. But if you try out for football you will get pummeled! Join the Dallas Cowboys NFL team and you surely will get knocked down on your very first day. When I played basketball, I got a couple of teeth knocked out by swinging elbows.

My friend Jim Williams served for years as Cotton Bowl chairman helping produce those championship football playoff games. In college when Jim played defensive end for the Arkansas Razorbacks under Coach Frank Broyles, he was a Cotton Bowl standout. In the 1965 Cotton Bowl National Championship game, Arkansas vs Nebraska, Jim twice halted the Nebraska last minute drive for what would be the winning touchdown. But Jim still bears in his body the marks of those hard hitting years. Once he almost died following restorative back surgery. But he just keeps going—never counted out. Today he is a Cotton Bowl Hall of Famer.

So listen up! Paul knew the price paid for gospel ministry. At Philippi he and Silas were beaten within an inch of their lives. Yet it was there in Philippi that Paul’s best work was born, quite literally born in a jail. Paul speaks from experience when he tells us “we have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV). This priceless treasure is contained in perishable containers. Remember, God uses us despite our weakness and wounds. The fight of faith is not without real pain, scrapes, and bruises. But the Lord sees. He pours in the healing balm of compassion. Victory has its costs. Yet we never give up. Never! His truth keeps marching on. He is with us all the way, in every trial and affliction.


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