When you think of the word “trial”, what comes to mind? There are several different contexts depending on what you are trying to explain. A trial can be an “experiment by a test”, a specific part of the legal process, or experiencing temptation or hardship.

When we think about trials in terms of experiencing challenges or difficulties, we may feel resistant to the idea that trials are beneficial. Why would anyone want to go through hard things? Who wants to suffer, struggle, or feel pain?

While no one typically seeks out trials, everyone will experience them at different times throughout life. It is important to remember that not only will everyone go through trials, but we all are given trials to teach important lessons that we might not be able to learn any other way.

God is our loving Father. He understands our needs and the ways that are best for us individually to grow and learn. He wants to give us every opportunity to become better and stronger than we were before. But that spiritual growth that God desires for each of us cannot happen if He keeps us comfortable and shields us from every challenge.

Every trial we experience has the potential to refine us, just like gold. When we choose God and remember that this trial is for our benefit, God can use our hard times to make us better. The process to refine gold and to remove all of the impurities is painstaking and requires high levels of heat and fire to eradicate every last tainted part. In Peter we read, “…so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7

This is what our trials do for us as we turn to God and find our strength in Him. While passing through grueling circumstances, we can look to Jesus to fortify us. We can remember His example and His dedication to God and to doing hard things. His life was far from easy. If we want to be more like Jesus, how can we expect to get there if we are always comfortable? Jesus was never comfortable – He took on the trials that came His way with faith, trust, and courage.

As we keep our trials in perspective and remember Jesus and His extraordinary example, we are able to more fully recognize that our trials are teaching us and giving us opportunities to grow and become more like Him. We can become refined and pure as gold, having passed through painful fires that get rid of our pride, greed, selfishness, or any other attribute that is less than pure. We can discard these and replace them instead with humility, generosity, love, and service. Little by little, as we pass through each fiery trial, we will be able to look at ourselves and see that we have become much more like Jesus.