“Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (1 Peter 4:12 TLB).
But the apostle Peter assures us that problems are normal, saying, “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (1 Peter 4:12 TLB). God uses these problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NLT).
Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship likely will be in your darkest days: when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great — and when you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. When in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers.
Joni Eareckson Tada notes, “When life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus, with imitating him and quoting him and speaking of him. But only in suffering will we know Jesus.” We learn things about God in suffering that we can’t learn any other way.
God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people was drawn closer to God as a result.
Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us” (2 Corinthians 1:9 TLB). You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.