We don’t often think of trials as our servants. But surprisingly, they drive us from our insufficiency to God’s all-sufficency. Like a spiritual uber driver, they chauffeur us to God’s blessings.
One biblical example is in Psalm 16. It begins with an undercurrent of conflict; David is in trouble. We don’t know precisely what it is—but this isn’t important. We do know the trouble he is facing is not trivial. We learn from reading the end of the psalm that he is talking about a confidence even in death. So, the type of pressure that David is facing is not something common, like a neighborhood bully but something very serious like a real threat to his life.
This is felt in his opening plea in verse 1: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” Many have observed that the language used here depicts one who watches over another’s safety (i.e. guards attending their king or a shepherd keeping his flock). David is looking at God as his mighty refuge.
This is how we know it is faith at work; amid the trial and temptation it does not look within but without. Faith never looks within but always looks away. Faith has eyes to look for God; it has hands to cling to God, it has feet to run to God; faith latches onto her object amid the time of trouble. As Calvin observes, “Our safety both in life and in death depends entirely upon our being under the protection of God.”
Faith has eyes to look for God; it has hands to cling to God, it has feet to run to God; faith latches onto her object amid the time of trouble.
This difficulty he’s enduring drives him to cling to God. Whatever is ailing him, surprisingly, is actually serving him.
This is not often how we think. We think in terms of things going well, then it is good. Things are hard, well, then it is not going well. But this is a crucial lesson for us to learn; difficulty for the Christian should not be taken to mean that God is upset with you but rather, it could very well be that God will show himself to be close to you in the midst of the trial. In this way, the trial is a servant.
I wonder how your life might change if you adopted this subtle shift in your thinking? Instead of thinking the medical, physical, spiritual, or personal conflicts you are enduring are a sign of God’s displeasure, what if they were meant to show you the sufficiency, beauty, and kindness of God?
For David, the undercurrent of the trial does not drive him out to drift about in the ocean of despair; rather, it serves to firmly tie him to the shore of God’s character. And here we see his commitment to God strengthened. As he takes his refuge in God, he makes this striking statement that he has no good apart from God. “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.'” He is simultaneously agreeing about God’s sufficiency while declaring his insufficiency.
For David, the undercurrent of the trial does not drive him to drift about in the ocean of despair; rather, it serves to firmly tie him to the shore of God’s character. And here we see his commitment to God strengthened.
Are you able to echo the psalmist’s words here with all truthfulness? Or do you spy some goodness in yourself apart from God? Faith latches onto God’s sufficiency because it has spied out the barren cupboards in his own life; he is running for his life he has no good apart from God.
Trials can be surprising ministers, serving us by showing our insufficiency and escorting us our all-sufficient God.