If you’re anything like me, you like to ask, Why?
We’ve all met that one kid who can’t stop asking it! They come up and ask: Why are trees round? Why is the sky blue? Why did your parents name you that? Why are you so short? Why do you dress like that? Why do you smile so funny?”
You get the point.
Asking Why? is central to our growth as individuals. Mentally, physically, spiritually—we need to understand why to further develop our understanding of life.
When it comes to God, and specifically the trials He allows us to walk through, what’s the point? Why does God allow trials to happen? I’ve found myself asking God why during trials, as I’m sure you have as well.
Asking God “why” is not wrong on one condition: we have to accept His answer and move forward with it by faith. Asking God “why” as a challenge to His authority is completely wrong; asking God “why” so we can learn, grow, and develop is fundamental to our growth in trials.
Here’s three answers God gave me when I asked why:
God Wants Us to Grow Closer to Him
Depending on the scope of your trial, it’s easy to feel like there’s no one you can turn to. You feel alone and discouraged—a dangerous place to be. In this moment God says, “Draw nigh to Me and I will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). While it’s so easy to feel isolated, use this time to deepen your walk with God. Our God is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He has never left you or forsaken you (Hebrews 13:5), and promises to strengthen, help, and uphold you (Isaiah 41:10). He will help you through every hardship (Isaiah 43:2) and promises to give you the strength to carry on (Deuteronomy 31:6). Grow close to Him, study His Word, and spend time with Him in prayer. We can confidently cast all our cares on Him knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
As we draw close to God, He will bring others into our lives right when we need them. I love what Psalm 68:6 says: “God setteth the solitary in families.”
God Wants Us to Reach Out to Others
As God brings us in contact with people as a result of our trials, putting “the solitary in families,” if you will, we have a pretty direct challenge. Look at what 2 Corinthians 1:4 says: “[God] comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Part of growing in trials is comforting and investing in others. Again, isolating ourselves in a bubble of self-pity is one of the most damaging and dangerous things we can do in times of trial. Comforting others is vital for two reasons: it gets us focused off of ourselves and our pain and onto others, and by encouraging others, we ourselves will be encouraged. You want a healthy way to move past trials? Find someone else who is hurting and comfort them the way God has been comforting you.
As a result of both of these (growing closer to God and reaching out to others) a third why becomes clear:
God Wants Us to Grow as Individuals
God is very clearly equipping you through your trial. Your faith has the incredible opportunity to flourish as now you can see an area where you had no option but to turn to God. God will bring you through and, in a sense, put a notch in your “faith belt.” You now have a mark you can look back on and say, “Look at what God did there; He brought me through what I considered the worst trial of my life! If He can do that, I can trust Him with anything.”
But not only do you have a deeper faith in God, you also have the opportunity to develop a new sense of empathy for anyone struggling in a similar trial to yours. You have felt the pain, cried the tears, lived the struggle. Your encouragement is no longer an empty Christian-catchphrase, but a true expression of care birthed out of the pain of similar experience. You know how to pray for their hurt, because you remember what you needed prayer for. You know what words to say or not to say, because you remember what you wished you could have heard or didn’t have to hear. And you know how to be a true biblical friend, because your trial taught you exactly where to stand to help lift their burden.
Just as every trial is different, the lessons they bring will be different. But know this: God always has a purpose for you and your trial. I implore you, don’t sit in self-pity, isolating yourself to wallow in misery. Run to God, reach out to others, and allow yourself to grow. Don’t waste your trial.