Have you ever been around someone who leads you to question, “Could I endure what he or she has with such grace and faith?” I was led to wonder that after spending part of yesterday with a dear sister in Christ who has suffered from a debilitating illness that is both acute and chronic in nature, has been a huge challenge to diagnose, and has impacted her life and her family’s lives for the past 18 years. Fully surrendered to the Lord and His will even amidst tremendous pain and suffering, her life exemplifies ‘tried and true’ faith.In addition, her life emits the sweet fragrance of Jesus, and it is such an encouragement, inspiration, and overall joyful blessing to be in her presence.

The trials and tribulations of life are a major reason that some people question whether God exists, or they assume that if He does exist, He must not be a loving God.So why does God allow suffering and trials in life?I doubt if anyone but God knows all of the reasons. Previous blogs I’ve written have focused on the blessing of self-revelation; of God- revelation; and the experience of miracles that may occur only due to trials and tribulations.Another blessing of trials—as my friend’s life testifies—is that they can purify our faith, and our faithfulness in the midst of the crises of life can strengthen and encourage others’ faith in the One in whom we trust. The greater the trial, the greater the glory God receives when we remain faithful to Him.

You too may know many people who are—or you yourself might be one who is— currently in the midst of a major life crisis. Be encouraged: trials are the greatest opportunity for growth in faith in the Lord for the one experiencing them and for those who are witnessing them. It is when we remain faithful to God that the unsaved look and say, “I don’t know how they are handling that situation!I know I’d never have that attitude (of courage, hope, patience, kindness, or love) if it were me!” The testimony of the faithful in the midst of severe trials often leads those who don’t know God to say, “I want to know more about the God whom they are relying upon and whose goodness they are trusting in during this situation.”

When you think of people you would identify as people of great faith, aren’t they also people who have been through great trials?

I think of real life hero Bethany Hamilton, the girl featured in the movie “Soul Surfer”, who lost her arm in a shark attack and whose steadfast faith in God has strengthened and inspired many others to have faith in Him too. I think of Nick Vujicic, the speaker and youtube sensation who was born without limbs, whose life has ministered to countless thousands because of his joyful spirit that contagiously testifies of his love  and trust in God. I think of my precious friend Karen, who in the midst of breast cancer and a burst appendix kept her focus on Christ at all times and proclaimed, “God’s love is better than life.”I think of Jamie, my friend and ministry partner who rejoiced in her recent suffering and declares that she experienced God’s love as never before during her recent brush with loss of limb and life due to flesh-eating bacteria. I think of Pastor Saeed Abedini who though currently locked in a foul Iranian prison and brutally tortured for his faith in Jesus, will not recant his faith in the One True God. What an encouragement and inspiration it is to the unsaved, and also to the Body of Believers, to hear of the faithfulness of the saints amid great trial and tribulation!

What about you?How does the way you respond to the trials of life testify to what you truly believe about God?Does your life bear witness to a steadfast faith in God no matter the circumstances, or is your faith merely fickle and fleeting? Are you able to endure trials with patience— and even joy— so the fragrance of Jesus will be shed abroad in the hearts of the unsaved, and used to encourage the Body of Believers to the glory of God?You too can have mountain-moving faith that will lead others into a deeper relationship with God! If you don’t believe you have that kind of faith, ask God to give you a deeper revelation of Him and His love for you and to increase your faith in Him.He will be faithful to do just that!

Written by Julie Van Gorp