We preachers are always on the lookout for good stories that illustrate a point we're trying to make. In preparing for a series of sermons on "Waiting on God," I researched my file index where I keep sermon illustrations and life stories. I went to the "T" file, and began thumbing my way through it. I was in search of something good that would help illustrate trust, for trust is an essential ingredient in learning to wait on God. What I found was amazing! Illustration after illustration was highlighted either with trial, trouble, temptation, or testing. However, right there in the middle of these illustrations, was one of my own stories I had long since forgotten ... it was highlighted — Trust. I would like to share it with you, in hopes that it will put trust into its proper perspective — right in the middle of trial, trouble, temptation, and testing!

Years ago when I believed God was moving me toward a life in ministry, I talked to every preacher and missionary I could find. I wanted them to tell me what it was like to preach and what I needed to do to prepare myself for this challenge. I went to every workshop and seminar available, and one day I heard one of my favorite preachers talk about commitment with no holds barred! I approached him and asked if I could visit with him for just a moment. I had never met him, so I didn't know how he would respond, but he was loving and kind.

I told this preacher that I wanted to be a preacher, and I wanted to be "just like him"! He shocked me with his response! He told me to be careful about what I wanted, because I had no idea of what it would take to get it. He then explained to me that his life had been full of tragedy. He buried a child on the mission field and lost a wife to cancer. He struggled with his own health and had children who had walked away from the Lord and were now in the "far country." He told me that every-once-in-a-while he expressed views on Scripture that did not "set well" with some brethren, and he had been labeled a liberal and church splitter! He asked me then if I wanted to hear more. I told him that I thought I had heard enough.

You see, this preacher opened my eyes to what I now know, because I have experienced it myself: learning to trust God does not happen in a vacuum, but in the arena of trial, trouble, temptation and testing! You don't trust someone unless you have been forced to do so. Just as the file on Trust is right in the middle of Trial, Trouble, Temptation, and Testing — so is it in real life.

Don't run away from Trial, Trouble, Temptation, and Testing, or ask God to spare you from all your pain, because right in the middle of them all, God is helping to create in you the greatest grace of all — absolute trust. We may have trouble living that way now, but believe me, when we're in heaven, we'll be glad we did.

Don't run away!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)