Jeremiah 27:1–28:17; Romans 5:1–21; Proverbs 20:1–12
In theory, it’s easy to provide answers to difficult faith questions. But when we face real trials, everything changes. We gain a new perspective on the Bible passages we’ve memorized; the Christian maxims we’ve passed on to others reverse and hit us full force. We don’t have the option to talk in hypotheticals. Trials require heartfelt faith and total reliance on God.
Suffering and trials are not punishment or neglect on God’s part. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. Paul describes how God works through trials to build us up in faith. And His work is not a quick fix or an easy answer. It’s a process, as Paul describes in his letter to the Roman church: “And not only this, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces patient endurance, and patient endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:3–5).
In times of suffering, we aren’t meant to abandon mourning or put up an artifice of strength. We’re not supposed to conquer and overcome and become the next Christian success story. God uses these trials to work in us—a slow, evolving work that begins with endurance, creates character, and culminates with a hope that won’t disappoint. We don’t embark on such a process by ourselves. Throughout our suffering, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5).
We will face trials and suffering in our lifetime—whether everyday difficulties or life-altering events. But affliction doesn’t separate us from God’s love (Rom 8:35). Indeed, God uses it to confirm His love for us. May Paul’s words give us comfort and perspective for the work God is or will be doing in us.
What trials or suffering are you enduring? How do Paul’s words shed light on your trials?
Rebecca Van Noord
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.