Purpose in the Pain: Entrusted with Trials

The hidden talent

In Matthew 25:14-30, we read “The Parable of the Talents”. Jesus tells the story of three servants who were entrusted with a sum of money to invest while the master was away. The first two doubled the amount entrusted them, but the third servant, who was given one talent, was afraid he might make a mistake with it. He went through all the what-ifs, and before long, he decided the best option was to bury the talent and hide it until the master’s return. When the master returned, he was very displeased with this servant’s decision because he had allowed his fear of the unknown to render him useless (Matthew 25:30).

However, the master pointed out that he was lazy as well (v.26). His fear was the excuse, but the master saw through the excuse to the real issue -he did not want to take the necessary measures to overcome his fear and invest that which was entrusted to him.

Stewardship of pain

If you grew up in church, at some point in your life, you have probably heard something along these lines: We are stewards of all God has given us -our time, our talents, and our treasures. Indeed, these are important areas of stewardship in the life of a believer. However, I believe there might be one element missing from that age-old formula, and that is trials. Trials?! Yes, we should even be good stewards of our trials.

Whatever pain you have experienced -suffering wrongfully, self-inflicted, sickness, loss of a loved one, PTSD etc. – God entrusted you with a specific trial, and he doesn’t want you to bury it. He doesn’t want you to hide it because of all the what-ifs:

  • What if people think differently of me.
  • What if it doesn’t help anyone.
  • What if no one understands.
  • What if no one ever talks to me again.
  • What if it’s too painful to talk about, and I lose control of myself.
  • What if I embarrass myself.
  • What if…

A few weeks ago I began a series called “Purpose in the Pain”. My goal for this series has been to help us understand our pain and suffering from a biblical perspective. So, how does the Bible teach that we can be good stewards of our pain?

David experienced some major self-inflicted pain because of his affair with Bathsheba. In his Psalm of repentance, he asks God to restore his joy and gladness; after that request we find these words in Psalm 51:13, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways…” (ESV). David understood that he was a steward of the (sin) trial God had allowed. Certainly, David was fully to blame for this pain he experienced, but he also knew that others could learn so much from his self-inflicted suffering.

Another example of this was Peter. We find the conversation in Luke 22:31-34; Jesus foretells Peter’s denial, but he tells Peter that after he is restored he wants him to use this to strengthen his brothers (v. 32). In essence, Jesus was telling Peter, “You have a talent with which I have entrusted you. I know it would be easy to bury this because it could be somewhat embarrassing or humiliating, but I don’t want you to bury this. I want you to use it to help others who find themselves in the same situation.”

Paul also taught being a good steward of pain in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (emphasis added).

Investing your trial

The question I want to leave with you is this: What are you doing with the trial God entrusted to you? Perhaps you say, “Well, I don’t know how to use it. How can I invest it and use it to help others?” If you read the parable in Matthew 25, you find the first two servants going out immediately looking for ways to invest that which was entrusted to them (the opportunities did not come to them; they went looking for them). The third servant, the one who was afraid, the one who would later be called “slothful” by the master, never made any attempt to invest his talent.

The lessons are clear:

  1. God has entrusted all of us with something.
  2. God wants us to use that something to build his kingdom.
  3. God wants us to go out and look for opportunities to use that something.
  4. God is not pleased when we bury that something because of fear or laziness.

Perhaps you should pray, “Father, please help me find an opportunity this week to invest the ‘trial’ you entrusted to me. And when that opportunity arises, let me not allow fear of the unknown to persuade me to bury it.”

I pray that you will invest your pain, suffering, trials, and failures to build the Kingdom of God. God bless you in your journey of growth.

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