How Do Trials and Problems Strengthen Us?

During my hour of worship this morning, the NLT version of Romans 5:3-4 really caught my attention.

Here’s what it said:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

The reason it stuck out to me was that it shined a positive light on what we typically see as negative. Whether it be a breakup, lay-off, death, failing grade, etc., most of us would be crushed. We’d feel weak. How can these trials “help us develop endurance”?

I’ve been thinking about this today, going over and over the words “rejoice”, “problems”, “trials”, and “endurance”. It didn’t make any sense at all! It almost sounded like a bad sales pitch, encouraging you to buy into the idea that we “need” problems and trials because they’re “good” for us. It sounds ridiculous, right?

That’s what I used to think. To me, trials were tests. I looked at tests as “survival of the fittest” and “you have it, or you don’t”. I thought life only consisted of failure or success, and you were ultimately either a winner or a loser. There was no in-between. After every trial started and after every failure, I thought God was messing with my head. I thought I was ultimately a hopeless person with no real future (a loser). So why rejoice?

But after I read the passage at least 20 times, I realized I missed something. I’ve faced similar trials multiple times (I.e. trying to make honor roll, trying to get a promotion, trying to enroll in a class that was already filled up, trying to get insurance figured out. etc.). Thinking about the outcomes now, they weren’t all bad. I didn’t get into a class that was full, but I did make honor roll. I didn’t make honor roll one semester, but I made it during the following one.

I fell so many times, but God gave me successes to push me further in life. The more progress I made, the more I had a reason to “rejoice”. God wanted me to apply a positive outlook on the future (hope), and He wanted me to seek help from Him to keep going and develop more hope. The more I continue to seek Him now, the more He gives me patience, peace, strength, wisdom, hope, etc. for more accomplishments and fulfillment of my purpose. I believe that God wants the same for everyone–the will to come to Him with problems and to use the strength that He gives them in the midst of despair. Only through Him do we find what we don’t always see–hope.

I challenge you to think about your trials and the outcomes. Were they all good/bad, or did they vary? What happened after a success? Did you still seek God? What about after a failure? How has your hope/happiness been affected by your relationship with God?

Feel free to comment with any of your own thoughts/stories.




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