A Christian Student’s Toolbox #7: Turning Trials into Something More Valuable than Gold

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A Christian Student’s Toolbox #7: Turning Trials into Something More Valuable than Gold

The purpose of this series was to compile strategies that would be useful in encouraging young adults to stay in the church.  In the first article of this series, we learned that roughly one in three young adults eventually will leave the church—this is a heartbreaking statistic; therefore, the Christian Student’s Toolbox series was created in an attempt to encourage myself and at least one other person to adopt various practical steps which would help us build a stronger connection with God and His church.

 

In this series, we have learned that we can make practical efforts to stay in the church by finding a home church that we attend regularly, and learning to authentically enjoy the Sabbath.  Additionally, we have learned that we can individually strengthen our connection with God by adopting various strategies for overcoming challenges to our faith, improving our prayer lives, and increasing our desire for God’s word.

 

As we move forward in a world of trials, we must be prepared to stand firm in our faith.  The Bible offers guidance on how we should face trials; it encourages us to rejoice in our trials in order to build perseverance and finish the work (James 1:1-4).  To continue with the ongoing theme of practicality, I am going to highlight several practical steps that a familiar person took to turn her trials into something more valuable than gold.

 

The very first post I ever read on The Compass Magazine was “Light Will Come”: Ellen White Talks Faith in the Midst of Discouragement. This post contained a letter written by Ellen White to her friends and fellow believers in the United States regarding her trials during her stay in Australia. It is quite apparent from this letter that Ellen White was experiencing emotional and physical hardships which were taking a toll on her life.

 

She writes, “I have been passing through great trial in pain and suffering and helplessness…”

 

When I read that sentence, I stopped for a while because numerous thoughts were going through my head.  I imagined the pain and suffering Ellen White may have been going through. Her words expressed a pain and depression that is common, even today.  Her words were so raw; so real.  How did she handle the pain? What practical steps did she take to persevere and finish her work through pain and suffering?

 

Slowly, I glanced back at the letter and quickly read the next sentence: “….but through it all I have obtained a precious experience more valuable to me than gold.” Wow, I thought.

 

Immediately reaching for my pen and journal, I began to jot down the practical steps Mrs. White took to reach this realization.  If I could learn to view and approach my afflictions in a similar manner, then I, too, would be able to persevere through trials.

 

The following are three strategies for turning your trials into something more valuable than gold.  I hope these strategies are as eye opening to you as they were to me.

 

Review your past. As Ellen White reflected on her past, she saw that God has been nothing but generous, faithful, and loving.  She saw in her own life that God was unchanging (Hebrews 13:8).  She writes, “I carefully reviewed the history of the past few years and the work the Lord gave me to do. Not once had He failed me, and often [He] manifested Himself to me in a marked manner, and I saw I had nothing of which to complain, but [instead], precious things running like threads of gold through all my experience.” Today, I pray that you and I will be able to see and feel God’s love through whatever trials we may go through.

 

 

Accept God’s plan.  It is difficult and often considered insensitive to tell someone who is hurting that their pain is part of God’s plan for their lives.  However, once the pain is gone and light has come, it is often somewhat clearer to see God’s will through our afflictions.  Our challenge and wish is that we understand and accept God’s plan in the midst of our trials.  What stood out to me in Ellen White’s letter is her realization, during the pain, that it was all part of God’s plan for a greater purpose.  She writes, “His unreconciliation was at the beginning of my sufferings and helplessness, but it was not long until I felt that my affliction was a part of God’s plan.” Today, I pray that you and I will be able to see God’s plan in whatever trials we may be facing. All things work together for good when we love the Lord (Romans 8:28).

 

Discover your potential in brokenness. God will never allow us to go through temptations that are not common to humankind.  And when we are tempted, He is faithful and will see us through (I Corinthians 10:13). We often feel inadequate as God’s instruments when are going through trial.  However, it could be that our trials are precisely the tools we need in order to carry out God’s will.  While going through sickness which seemingly made physical activity difficult, Ellen White wrote, “I found that by partly lying and partly sitting I could place myself in position to use my crippled hands, and although suffering much pain I could do considerable writing.” Here, we learn that we may go through trials that seemingly cripple us; however, in God’s sight, we are complete, and ready to carry out His will.

 

 

There may be various reason why young people leave the church: some may leave because they lack a strong support system, and others may leave because of challenges to their faith or trials that they encounter in life.  Regardless, we must prayerfully seek God, and ensure a solid foundation on which we can stand firm when our faith is threatened. I pray today that you and your loved ones will remain in the church, serving and praising God for as long as you live.  “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11; NIV).

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Bertilde “Bee” Kamana is a doctoral student in the department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. In her spare time, Bee enjoys writing about faith as it relates to young adults. She aspires to shine God’s light in seemingly dark places.