1. Sometimes the trials and struggles help to prepare us for future service by removing things that hold us back.
And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace…And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Daniel 3:20-21,23-25,27b
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10
The fire burns away those things that bind us and cause us to be contaminated. Things which would keep us from fulfilling the task God has planned for us to do, or cause us to refuse the assistance of others.
Pride, for example, would make it all about us and keep us from reflecting God’s glory. We might be stripped of this feeling of self-importance which causes us to believe that all that is accomplished is because of us, forgetting that the One who called us, was also the One who enabled us.
Sometimes we are held back by fear which must be stripped away – fear of pain and trials greater than we think we can bear. Yet the trials and struggles that have lined the way have brought us face to face with the truth that with God all things are possible – even walking through that which seems to devastate us.
2. Often, if we remain in a constant relationship with God, and seek after Him, we can prepare ourselves through study and prayer. We may not know what is coming, but the Scriptures are full of principles that will prepare our hearts and minds to accept whatever God brings into our lives.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (kjv)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15 (kjv)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (kjv)
There is no more crucial lesson than this—that we must be desperate for Him and a relationship with Him, in order to carry out the work He has called us to. Devastation can either cause us to run far from God or it can push us deeper into His arms, realizing just how utterly dependent we are upon Him for every breath, every ounce of energy needed for living out the calling of our life.
The time to establish this relationship is today, not when the crisis happens, and yet, it is often the crisis that establishes it more permanently into our hearts and minds.
3. Learning to worship.
It’s easy to worship when everything is going according to plan. It’s an entirely different thing to worship when our world has fallen apart.
We can learn true worship, not only in the foundation rattling circumstances, but also in the irritations of life. We learn while dealing with that one peer that has nothing positive to say. Ever. The lost spreadsheet we spent the entire day working on. The flat tire. And endless lines at the supermarket, while your children play dodgeball with the candybars. The rainy days that never cease.
The Bible speaks to the sacrifice of praise and that is truly what it is some days. A total sacrifice. But learning it is part of the preparation for that which lies before us. Creating a habit of worship and praise to God at all times, will certainly help us to respond instead of to simply react, when the hard times come.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11
With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death. Psalm 109:30-31
Often, praise and thanksgiving comes from a change in perspective as well. When we realize what we truly deserve and what God has truly blessed us with, the weather, broken down vehicles, and even the lack of employment seem minimal in light of His power and His love.
4. Godly friendships and counsel.
Those who have also learned the above concepts are those we should be surrounding ourselves with and immersing our time and energy into. Preparation of our hearts will not take place in the soil of ungodly influence, but rather the influence of those who point us towards Christ, holding us accountable for our actions and attitudes, and spurring us on to Godly living.
Not only do they add to our present spiritual growth, they will help us stay the course when we, in turn, are ministering to others in need of learning how to conquer the same battles we faced. The foundation of Godly friendship is a key part of our preparation, for it will be the main-stay as the weeks and months wear on.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9
To sum it up, don’t wait until you are in the midst of trials to begin preparing for them. On the same token, don’t wait until you receive your desires to begin preparing for them either. Set your eyes on the prize and work towards becoming the person that you need to be right now. Don’t waste the present, with longings for the future. Rather use the present to prepare for the future, whatever that might hold. Loving God is the first commandment, and becoming more like Him is our highest goal. Do the next right thing!
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC, Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp37p07-04-13