What Is the Purpose of Troubles?

When the inevitable troubles of various kinds come, remember the second truth about them—they have a purpose. We’re not just tossed into the crowd and left to fend for ourselves as God runs the world from a distance. The various troubles that occur are all part of His plan. When we accept this, we can view them as opportunities for growth.

Notice what James says: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (1:2). A trial is a faith test that exercises your endurance, not to break you but to strengthen you (see verse 3). So James says to let that endurance grow (verse 4).

Don’t look for an escape hatch. Instead, lean into God’s plan and learn from the trial. Let it water your roots so you can grow deeper in your relationship with Him.

As I’ve looked back over the decades of my life, I’ve learned the value of yesterday’s pain. Our trials are where the most important lessons are learned. Sometimes we learn from our own failures or through difficult situations we ourselves have caused. Often we grow from falling prey to others’ poor choices or circumstances beyond our control. When we value the lessons learned through our trials, they will help us to become mature. They all have a purpose. They are all part of our loving heavenly Father’s plan to conform us to the image of His Son.

Recognizing that troubles have a purpose is much better than always asking, “Why did this happen? Why me? Why now?” Instead, we can ask much more fruitful questions: “What can I learn from this about God’s grace? About the love of His Son? About the comfort of the Holy Spirit? What important truth is God teaching me at this point in my journey?”

When we shift our focus from “why” to “what,” we can begin to face the inevitable troubles of life as opportunities for growth and great joy.

Devotional content adapted from Clinging to Hope by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2022. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.  

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