I’m at my parents’ house in Georgia for a couple of weeks. I enjoy visiting my parents for so many reasons, but one of the quirkiest reasons I love being here is that I’m not in charge of much of anything.
They have a dog, but I don’t have to feed her. They have a garden, but I don’t have to tend it. They have a beautiful lawn, but I don’t have to mow it. Sure, I help out with cooking and cleaning the dishes and running errands and tidying up, but with my energetic, hard-working parents I’d just be in the way if I tried to do too much here.
On the other hand, one of the trickier things about staying in someone else’s home is the effort it takes to find things. You know, like ibuprofen and cookies and paper to write on and a rubber band and a nonstick skillet. I didn’t grow up in this house, so I don’t have “that’s where we’ve always kept it” going for me. Plus, my mother is extremely organized and has a place for everything, but I can’t always figure out where that place might be.
When you’re in a new place it can be difficult to find the things you need to lay your hands on.
Finding Treasure in Your Trials
Yesterday I heard somewhere the beautiful expression “finding the treasure in the trials.” I love alliteration, so the little phrase grabbed my attention immediately. It is indeed so crucial to find the treasure in our trials. And I believe there are always treasures of great worth to be found in our darkest days.
I asked myself, “Where have I found the greatest, richest treasures in my trials?” You see the word “treasure” rings of things hidden, things sought for and things deliberately unearthed. I picture a map with an X that marks the spot. I sense a little confusion followed by clarity then anticipation and finally victory. And I envision enviable wealth reserved for only those who diligently seek it.
I haven’t been on a treasure hunt in my parents’ home, but I have had to scour cupboards and drawers and closets to find some of the things I’ve needed while visiting. And that made me think about how you may be confused about where the treasures can be found in your recent trial. I know that feeling of desperately wanting to find the silver lining, but only being able to see the dark clouds moving in. I know how hard it can be to find the treasure God has marked out just for you when you’re in a hard and unfamiliar place.
But sister, I came out of my most recent trial with a treasure chest overflowing with precious goods. In fact, I gained treasure I could never have laid my hands on if I hadn’t visited that trial. I found costly intangibles like:
- a sweeter friendship with my Lord
- newly discovered scriptures that felt personal and tender
- a heightened compassion for others who are hurting from broken or bruised relationships
- some beautiful new friendships
- a stronger dependence on God’s grace and strength
- some God-given and hard-earned wisdom in areas where I had been foolish before
- some staying power in places I am naturally weak
- truth where I had once believed lies
- a published book, for Pete’s sake!
- which in turn has blessed and helped others in trials, to God be all the glory!
You may or may not write a book after your trial has eased or ended, but God will provide treasure uniquely meant for you.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Where to Look for Treasure
If you want to find the treasure in your trials I invite you to follow the trail I took. That’s not to say I never took an unfortunate detour or got detained going in circles while focusing on myself and my woes. I certainly did. But by the grace of God I eventually found the treasure He promised in my land of trial. You will, too.
God marks the spot. Look for God here:
- In His presence. Are you spending time with just you and the Lord? Are you sitting still, listening for Him to speak, giving Him time to break through your scattered, distorted thoughts with truth and grace? I encourage you, above all else, to spend increasing amounts of time alone with the Lord, learning to enjoy the goodness of His presence.
- In His Word. God’s Word is a treasure chest. It provides truth to counteract the lies that have prevailed in your thoughts. It provides instruction for living whole in a broken world. It gives hope to the hopeless and peace to the anxious. Read it daily. Memorize a portion weekly. Eat it hungrily like your daily bread by meditating on it.
- In the body of Christ. The church is a hospital for the wounded and sick. It is a place to hear the healing balm of truth on a regular basis and receive an occasional dose of compassion and encouragement from those who have been where you now are. Even if your hurts came at the hand of someone at church or the church itself, go to church. Find a new one if you need to, but go to church. And once you’re there, be real, reach out, join in, sign up and receive some love.
- In worship. When we praise God for who He is and what He has previously done, sing songs of adoration to Him, confess our weakness and sins to Him and admit our dependence on Him, we elevate our powerful God and put our pitiful circumstances into perspective. We turn our eyes upon Him and quit focusing on what we cannot change. Ultimately worship rids us of tunnel vision and improves our sight.
- In obedience. I didn’t want to forgive, but when I did I found joy. I didn’t want to worship, but when I did I found hope. I didn’t want to love, but when I did I found healing. I didn’t want to wait on God (and often I didn’t), but when I did He accomplished things I could not have done. We can praise God and go to church and read His Word every day until the cows come home, but if we don’t obey Him, the treasure will remain elusive.
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
Sister, I want you to be amazed as you rummage through the treasures you find in your trials. Don’t settle for less than that. Don’t just get through your trial; become richer because of it.
If your heart has been wounded and you are desperately searching for the treasures in your trial, I’d like to humbly suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.