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By Bo Sanchez

What gift do you want for Christmas?

Do I hear anybody say, “I want trials”?

Of course, we don’t want trials. But why does God send us trials? Why does He allow trials to come our way? I thought He loves us?

Precisely. God allows trials to come into our life because He loves us. If God doesn’t love us, we won’t have trials.

The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you, depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their life. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pause to consider what benefit the problems might bring.

Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:

1. God uses problems to direct you.

You know, sometimes God changes our path and direction and He does that through the problems that we have.

Back in 1991, I fell in love with a woman. She’s charming, religious and I really fell for her. I courted her, sent her roses, chocolates, even serenaded her. But after a few months, she rejected my love. She wasn’t ready for a commitment.

I cried to the Lord.

And then I realized, if she accepted my proposal and we got married in 1992, my life would have turned out differently.

Because in 1994, I started Anawim (our home for the aged) and lived with the lolos and lolas for three years. If I had gotten married in 1992, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.

God truly knows everything.

In 1997, I fell in love again. I courted the lady and she accepted me. By that time, Anawim was already stable and I could leave it to some trusted people. So I was able to marry the woman of my dreams.

In hindsight, through my trials, God redirected me. Sometimes God sends us problems to redirect us. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention?

“Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. “
— Proverbs 20:30

2. God uses problems to inspect you.

People are like tea bags. If you look at it, you won’t know if it is good tea or not. You have to put it in hot water — then and only then will you know.

Has God tested your faith with a problem?
What do your problems reveal about you?
Some people just give up when there’s a problem.

“When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.”
— James 1:2-3

A young woman went to her mother and told her how things were so hard for her. She wanted to give up. As one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen.

She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second, she placed eggs, and in the last, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She scooped the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what you see?

“Carrots, eggs and coffee,” she replied.

“Which one are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

“Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, wilts, becomes soft and loses its strength?

“Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside are you bitter and tough with a hardened heart?

“Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the
situation around you.”

How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

The story sure has made me think. I want to be the coffee bean.

A Christian who has trials is transformed by the trials.

Sometimes God sends us trials to inspect us. What kind of heart do you have? What stuff are you made of?

3. God uses problems to correct you.

One time, a man told me his story. He’s 25 years old, a good man. He said that one day he got tempted and went to a bar. A woman approached him, tempted him by saying, “Anything can happen tonight.”

And true enough, something happened. They went to a motel. Days after that, he discovered after medical tests that he had contracted herpes. And according to the doctors, there really is no cure for herpes. It just stays with the afflicted. When the person’s resistance goes low, it resurrects itself.

And then he told me, “Bro. Bo, the Lord is correcting me.”

That’s true. God was correcting him.

I realized that God allows some of our trials to correct us.

Trials come into our life but I don’t mean that the Lord intervenes or interferes to make them happen.

Look at the man who got herpes. Was it the Lord who gave the disease to him? No, God did not even have to interfere. Who gave the herpes to the man? The woman? No! It was the man who put it upon himself! It
was his fault. He chose to have it.

God does not even have to punish you. He will just have to allow the bad consequences of your bad decisions. Sometimes, God allows trials to correct you. And when God corrects you, you’d better listen.

There are some lessons we learn only through pain and failure.

“It was the best thing that could have happened to me,
for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.”
— Psalm 119:71-72

4. God uses problems to protect you.

How many of you have been protected by a trial? Do you think it’s possible?

The lone survivor of a shipwreck was stranded on an island. He made a small nipa hut, looked for food on the other side of the island. While there, his nipa hut got burned. He got very angry with the Lord. He slept with his anger. When morning came, he was awakened by the sound of a pump boat. He was being rescued. He asked them, “How did you know I am here?” And they said, “Yesterday, we saw your smoke signal.”

Sometimes, the Lord uses our trials to protect us, to rescue us and to bless us. A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good....”
— Genesis 50:20

The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will
not protect you.
— Unknown

5. God uses problems to perfect you.

Problems, when responded to correctly, are characterbuilders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you’re going to take with you into eternity.

“We can rejoice when we run into problems... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.”
— Romans 5:3-4

Believe that God will use your problems to bless you abundantly. Let Him fulfill the purpose behind your trials.