Every trial we encounter in life will either knock us down or strengthen us.
Problems can make us doubtful, afraid, and unstable, but we can choose to push back and emerge as more finely honed individuals. We do not have to lie down and take what comes to crush us.
All our trials are personal. Some are short-lived, and others seem to last forever, but all of them impact spirit, soul, and body.
When we change our focus from the suffering of our trials to what they can bring us, the nature of each trial changes. We can find strength and hope. Our positive attitude can uplift those around us.
When our attitude toward difficulty is rooted in hope, each trial allows us to grow stronger. We can treasure what we have accomplished and better appreciate the view after climbing our way out. Ernest Hemingway observed that “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”
Just as extreme heat is required to rid iron ore of impurities and create steel, our trials purify us. Purity and refinement come only with significant stress and pressure. And what we gain through our hardship is precious exactly because it can only be gained through suffering.
Trials develop our patience as we endure and wait for them to end. When we act patiently, we bear provocation, annoyance, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or irritation. Patience requires practice and develops over the long haul of lives, trial by trial. We learn to suppress restlessness and annoyance when we have to wait amidst discomfort.
Patience works to mature us as it equips us for wisdom. Wisdom is rooted in breadth of mind, and the restless and impatient cannot contain it.
Another word for patience is endurance. As we go through our trials, we increase our stamina and fortitude. Our test challenges our persistence, but the favorable outcome makes it all worthwhile.
When patience has finished maturing us, it produces character; a quality acquired only by enduring trials. A person’s character is the culmination of features and traits that form his or her nature and personality. To say that one has character usually implies that they have a positive moral or ethical quality. When we have character, we stand out as bold, knowledgeable, and trustworthy people.
Hope makes us stable and single-minded. Hope is never a “what if” or “I am not sure it will work.” Hope expects a positive outcome. Otherwise, it is not hope; it is doubt. Hope frees our minds of clutter that holds us down. It allows our spirits to soar.
To have empathy is to identify with or vicariously experience another person’s feelings, thoughts, or attitudes. When we have suffered any trial, we naturally become more compassionate for others who are struggling. We understand their feelings and doubts and can empathize with them and point them toward recovery.
So if these are the qualities we gain through our trials, what qualities do we need to endure our trials?
Hear quickly and take heart.
When we hear the right thing to do, we must do it. Otherwise, it produces nothing. Doing the right thing always yields a favorable result.
Respond slowly, and our response will be of great value.
We need to think before speaking, but this is not always easy. It requires repetition and recognition.
Keep anger at bay and resist the urge to argue.
We have to bite our tongue, count to ten, or be quiet until we can be rational. A quiet spirit can overcome many flaws and mistakes. Even foolish people are counted as wise when they hold their tongues.
Our ignorance and stupidity can plunge us into a trial. Perhaps we do not understand what we are getting ourselves into when we choose a course of action or even of thought or belief. Even so, its consequences have no respect of persons, and they will follow us wherever we go. This is an unalterable fact of nature, like gravity. What is done is done, but we can uncover the beauty that is hidden beneath the error.
Trials can cause tremendous gains in our lives if we embrace rather than flee from them. Right now, let’s you and I decide to learn from our tests and watch our patience grow, and our character develop as hope and empathy unfold in our lives. It is a beautiful life, after all!