Several years ago, my church did a bible study on spiritual gifts. We did an in-depth study of what gifts there were and we all took a “test” to determine what our gifts were. My gift turned out to be encouragement. I was also strong in the servant & compassion departments. Really? Encouragement? Surely the test must be wrong. I’m not one to send out cards for every occasion. I rarely remember a birthday…though Facebook helps remind me of birthdays now….so I don’t really have an excuse. I’m not an encourager. That’s what I convinced myself of.
A few years later, there was renewed interest in what our spiritual gifts were and I did the course again. Certainly, if I took the test again I’d come up with a “better” gift. The results were the same. By this time, I was in nursing school and I thought for sure that compassion should be my gift. Nope…still very strong in the encouragement department.
Time went by and I put this on the back burner. Life was busy, and the test was wrong anyway, so I thought, so why should I care?
There were many trials that I faced in my late teens up through my 30’s. I had some difficult employers who didn’t care for my dedication to God and my desire to go to church and be a part of church activities. I had a boss that lied to other employees and claimed that I had said things about them, which thankfully, these coworkers knew I would have never done or said those things. By the age of 25, I had lost all of my grandparents and a beloved uncle died of a terrible disease. (He instilled in me a love for birds and flowers.) I was involved in two major car accidents (but thankfully escaped injury both times!). I faced financial devastation several times. I nearly lost my first pregnancy (Katie) to HELLP Syndrome (a severe form of preeclampsia). I lost two pregnancies and a precious baby boy that we were adopting. One thing after another occurred….more than I can list here. Some things were just absolutely devastating and I couldn’t figure out why God would ever allow someone to go through some of these things.
Well, I know now. He was developing my gifts. He allowed these trials to grow my faith. Now in my role as a development coordinator, I get to interact with many people. During the course of my visits, we get to know each other. These people share their life-stories with me. Many have had similar if not the exact same type of trials that I have been through. I soon came to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, God allowed some of those trials so that I could connect better with some of these people. I could encourage them by sharing how God helped me through those same trials.
Recently, I met a woman who was once fired for sharing God’s love with a patient. She refused to stop, and they fired her. Now, I was never fired, but I was advised to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I could identify with her and we were able to share these frustrations together.
I also met a man who shared about the devastation of losing his first-born baby girl shortly after birth. Again, I could identify. We lost our son when he was 2 days old because his birth mother changed her mind about the adoption. I knew that pain he felt.
Another shared about losing a parent to a debilitating disease that deteriorated her mind and body over time. I had experienced that multiple times in my family, but I sensed a parallel comparrison to her situation and the long illness and subsiquent death of my grandfather.
Why does God allow trials? There are trials we will never know why He does allow them. Then there are others where it’s painfully clear why we’ve had to deal with them.
When I was suffering pregnancy loss, followed by the loss of our adoption, no one could have ever told me I’d see God in that situation. In fact, I spent an awful lot of time yelling at Him for allowing it to happen. Yes, I yelled at Him. I’d scream every night on my way home how much He’d let me down. I’d scream on my way to work as to why He’d punish me in this way….after all, I worked for an OB/GYN and those kind of nurses should never have a pregnancy loss. It took a while, but I soon realized that God was allowing me to experience this so that I could minister to other women who experienced a loss. I could help comfort and encourage them.
As we go through trials, it’s difficult to think that something good could ever come of that moment. But at some point, an “aha” moment might come and you’ll realize very clearly that God uses those moments to grow us and to encourage others. So bring on those trials! God has promised us He will never give us more than we can bear. Thank you, Lord for growing us in these trials of life!