Can Trials Be Our Opportunities?

I got another e-mail—a friend who is facing a trial. I thought, “Wow, another person, Lord!”

Yes, I know that we will face trials. The Bible reminds us that we will face trials of various kinds (James 1:2). We will face opposition and suffering (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12). This is part of living in a fallen world—I know that. But, the question is not so much how to fight through trials but how one can thrive in trials. Throughout the New Testament, we read of apostles who thrived in trials. One particular story is found in the book of Acts and it changes our perspective of trials.

We read in Acts that the Holy Spirit was doing some great and mighty work. The church was growing and opposition was coming (for example, Acts 4:1-4). The early church knew that this was going to happen. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years and saw that opposition comes whenever God is working. They were not surprised when they were arrested; it was part of the calling.

There is one particular story in Acts 3, where we read about a man, 40 years of age, who was born crippled. He was placed by a gate in the temple daily by friends so he could ask for money, and then something amazing happened. Peter and John were walking to the temple to pray their afternoon prayers when they met eyes with this man.

The man, expecting money, instead received a miracle. John said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 ESV). Peter took him by the hand and instantaneously this man walked, actually leapt for joy (3:8).

This great work happened because Peter and John were at the right place at the right time with the right message.

This great work wasn’t planned, other than Peter and John were doing what the religious Jews did at that time. At that part of the day, they would offer prayers in the temple. This is what they knew to do, what they probably normally did before on a daily basis. Yet, God had other plans that day, and through this man’s trial a great opportunity took place.

Trials can be opportunities

This man was born crippled, but his trial became an opportunity for the gospel to be proclaimed. Though this man being able to walk for the first time was incredible, the greater work came as a result of the miracle. Peter and John found themselves with a crowd gathered around them because this man was now walking. They took this opportunity and proclaimed salvation in Christ alone and many people believed (Acts 4:4).

This man’s trial was an opportunity for a greater work to be done, and what a reminder for us when we go through trials and afflictions.

1) Our trials are our opportunities.

Many times I just want my affliction to pass quickly. I say, “How long, O Lord?” But, as much as I want this storm to pass, I overlook the fact that God, who is in charge and is good, can use it as an opportunity for the gospel to be proclaimed.

It is important that we change our perspective and think, “Maybe the Lord can use this somehow and in some way to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.” As we read in the Bible, God did and still does use the sufferings of people to bring glory to Himself.

2) We can turn our problems into praise.

We need to remind ourselves that our pain, our hurt, is not wasted before the Lord. Though we know we will face hard times, and that the Christian life was never promised to be easy, we are reminded that God can use it for his glory.

The Bible reminds us we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3–5).

The first thought when problems come is not worship! Yet, we are called to rejoice in our sufferings. Why? Because of what comes from it. God is doing something greater in us and through us—and even with us—than we will ever know.

3) Remember, physical healing is just temporary relief. We want eternal healing!

The healing that took place for this crippled man was a miracle. But the greater miracle was not the one that gave the temporary healing—it was the eternal healing.

It was amazing that this man who was born crippled walked, jumped, and ran for the first time. He got to experience the great healing touch of Jesus. Yet, this man would still have to face physical death as all of us do. The greater work was that Jesus saves our souls and not just our physical health.

This perspective reminds me that this life is short and my hardships are short to endure and what awaits me is true healing of heart and body, true glories forevermore (Romans 8:18).

What are you facing right now that I can lift you up in prayer over?