Enduring trials is one of the hardest and most enriching parts of the Christian faith. Though the triumph of those trials is often misconstrued or misdirected until that one brief moment when we realize the intent and true victor of our trial. The strength to both endure and overcome a trial doesn't come from an inner, hidden strength to see us through. Honestly we don't have that kind of strength hidden away for a rainy day; it simply isn't within us. When we attempt to fight against our inadequacies in the midst of a trial we find ourselves frustrated, tired, down right angry, and so on. We cannot struggle alone and hope to overcome.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV
Should we count trials as punishment? No, trials aren't meant to punish but meant to bring out the best aspects of ourselves by getting rid of the "junk" in our lives. We also can't say outright that they are complete joy since they are not easy, but difficult. When our faith is tested we either grow stronger or our faith is broken. When our faith is tested according to James and it produces "steadfastness" it creates in us an unwavering spirit. Likewise, the more trials we endure with God only produces a greater faith. The opposite will also be true because if our faith waivers in every trial then it will be found to weak.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 ESV
Each trial I've gone through isn’t always a beautiful and wonderful experience to look back on. They were hard and in most cases bloody scrapes where my faith either grew or was diminished. The difference between them all is when I chose to trust in God and he allowed my utter failure to be a recharging flame for my dwindled faith. It taught me two things; first, my strength is insufficient without God, and second, each trial endured only serves to strengthen my faith.
Though we also shouldn't be fearful of trials or surprised when they do come since those are the moments when we can see our faith put to the test. Sure, they won't be easy, so let me be clear a trial will not come when we are fully equipped and prepared for it. It will arrive at the least expected, least wanted time to tackle us when we are not ready to fight the good fight. Whom do we turn to in those times? Do we turn to friends, family, or our spouses? All fall short and aren't adequate for what we need in the end. We must turn ourselves towards God and become dependent on Him. God is the one we have to lean on during our trials and it's His strength that carries us through.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19 ESV