DVEmbracing TrialsMy brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. —James 1:2Have you encountered any trials recently? What was your approach? How do you find God—His place, His presence—in such times? What directions or lessons have they led to?Among the warmer things of interpersonal relationships are hugs. Hugs radiate a myriad of feelings and characteristics including, comfort, parental care, peace, joy, and relief. Along our own journeys of life we also face many trials—trials either of punishment, or of refinement, both of divine causation—with the desired result of drawing nearer to God. This is where trials and hugs are tied: think of trials as God reaching out to hug us.
Sometimes things happen nowhere out of the blue. Although we feel we have not sinned against God and search for a reason why a traumatic event occurred, it may simply be a trial that we may be "refined by fire" and "proved genuine" (1 Pet 1:7, NIV). In these circumstances we ought not to complain or grumble like the Israelites wandering in the desert. Rather, we should grab hold of God’s stretched-out arm. He wishes to be closer to you—therefore, trust in God for His peace and providence through this trial.
Other times misfortune happens but it hits us in the heart: this is in fact punishment for sins we have committed against God. In this case, we should follow the example of Jonah who realized his fault ("I know that this great tempest is because of me" in Jonah 1:12), and repented, crying, "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to you" (Jon 2:7). Finally, he was reconciled with God. Punishment, too, draws us closer to God. It compels us to examine ourselves and turn to God for forgiveness and healing.
The next time trouble comes your way, think and reflect. Perhaps God is disciplining you, or perhaps He is refining you. Either way, He wants to embrace you. Therefore, approach with faith—knowing that the steps you must take to draw closer to Him lead to all joy.