Don’t Waste Your Trials

Tony Snow, the White House Press Secretary, recently resigned his post effective September 14 due to his battle with cancer. His illness led to this interesting interview with David Gregory of NBC and an insightful article written by Snow himself in Christianity Today entitled “Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings.” This paragraph really got my attention for two reasons…

There’s another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

How To Interpret A Trial
Mr. Snow interprets his cancer as a blessing because it taught him the spiritual truth that comfort often causes us to ignore eternal questions and conversely trials clarify what is truly important.

Paul does something similar in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9…

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

Paul tells us about a time in which he and others encountered trials that were so serious that they thought they were going to die. Like Tony Snow, in that life threatening situation, Paul saw an unexpected blessing, namely that he learned God-reliance instead of self-reliance.

So how will we interpret the difficulties and trials that come our way? Will we come to the wrong conclusion that trials are a sign God is against us or will we be open to see unexpected blessings? Will we learn great spiritual truths?

It Doesn’t Last Long
Notice that in the quote cited above, Snow writes that these moments of clear thinking are “usually short-lived.” How true that is. For an hour or a week or a month we see life from a divine perspective. With greater clarity, we can differentiate between the substantive and the silly. For a relatively brief moment in the middle of trials, God wipes away the “trivial and tinny” and gives us the ability to make value judgments that make sense in light of eternity. But then it’s gone. That kind of clear, sober, God-centered thinking slips away and if we aren’t careful, we quietly resume living the way we were before God blessed us with the trial. Trials are too important to waste.

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