Taken from A Word In Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Vol. 1, pp. 140-141
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in “John Ploughman’s Talk,” wrote, “Let it never be forgotten that when a man is down, he has a grand opportunity for trusting in God. A false faith can only float in smooth water, but true faith, like a life-boat, is at home in storms. If our religion does not bear us up in time of trial, what is the use of it? If we cannot believe God when our circumstances appear to be against us, we do not believe Him at all. We trust a thief as far as we can see him. Shall we dare to treat our God in that fashion?”
Spurgeon brings us to the heart of the problem. I have heard so many people say, “I cannot believe in a God who allows anyone to suffer.” Such people usually practice what they preach. They rear their children on the principle that they must be denied nothing, and that no unhappiness or suffering ever come their way. Then, when their children grow up, they fail to understand why their children are such vicious characters and cause everyone, including themselves, such grief. “But I gave them everything!” they say in bewilderment.
God does allow us to suffer. He does lead us through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4), and more saints than one have had the Psalmist’s experience of troubles so great that they threatened to “swallow me up.” Adversity and the fire of affliction are the means whereby God purges and purifies His people and prepares them for His service both in this world and in the world to come. The “school of adversity” does have an award for its graduates.
Troubles should drive us closer to God, and like David, we should say, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Ps. 56:3). None of us enjoy our troubles, but in looking back, we can recognize that, without those troubles, we would never have gained the wisdom and growth we have. This is only possible, and troubles can only work together for good for us, Romans 8:28 makes clear, if we love and trust God.
In a sinful world, we must expect troubles. In such a world, troubles are necessary and inescapable. The real problem, however, is ourselves. How will we deal with them? Moreover, will the troubles draw us closer to God our strength, or will they make clear that we never really believed in Him?