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“What insights might the Bible have for us as we come through another fire?” —John
We don’t need the Bible to remind us that life is full of unpleasant experiences, dangerous times and many interruptions of our well-made plans. Of course, the Bible is replete with accounts of such things because it is essentially the story of how humans and God interact in times of crisis.
The primary teaching of Scripture regarding how we ought to respond to trials is both fascinating and frustrating. We are to “rejoice (and) give thanks.” The “always be joyful” instruction (see Rom. 5:3; I Thess. 5:18; James 1:2) is almost a cliché and not always welcome, but there are good reasons to view troubles with some measure of “exultation.”
Biblical writers tell us that troubles help us grow up (James 1:4); i.e., they produce character and maturity. They strengthen us so that we are able to keep going when things seem overwhelming (James 1:3; Rom. 5:4). In these times, we are better able to accept the transience of stuff and identify more clearly what really matters. We are humbled by the labor and sacrifice of others on our behalf — an attitude of gratitude takes root rendering us a little less aloof and self-reliant and more aware of the value of those around us.
The Bible also points to another “benefit,” if you will, of crisis times. If we are open and willing, such a time will point us to God. He is “our refuge and strength in time of trouble” (Ps. 46:1ff). Numerous passages in Scripture (see Nehemiah 9, for example) remind us that God is actively present, in the midst of the storm, calling us to trust Him. He offers a hope that does not fail when there is nowhere else to stand (Rom. 5:5).