“Life is Change. Growth is optional.”

I first heard those words decades ago, but they still ring in my ears. Not because they are clever, or even because they are true, but because they are so very biblical.

Change takes us by surprise. And that is not the happy surprise of Christmas morning or the unexpected raise in pay. It is the surprise of shock that warns us intuitively that WE may need to change.

That is what rattles us. Not change in itself, but the realization that this new situation will demand of me things I don’t have, or present a problem I can’t solve. I may look silly, do something foolish, or have to learn something I had not wanted to know. We thought we were all set, and now, this! Change shoves us out of our warm, downy comfort zone, and suddenly we have to fly. What does God say about all this?

First, a trial should not really surprise us. Peter (1 Peter 4:12) tells believers who were facing persecution for their faith, “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” If persecution should not shock us, should we be derailed by a virus?

Second, a trial will not overwhelm us. Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 10:13) that “No temptation (trial) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” What you need is in your backpack.

Third, a trial can grow us. This is the optional part. Trials happen. The variable is our response. James 1:2-4 invites us to mature in them: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

We hear folks say that nothing is more constant than change. I think they are wrong. More constant than change is the One who equips us for change and through that change makes us more like Jesus.


“Father, help us rejoice in time of trials, knowing that
you give us grace to handle them
and walk with us through them. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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