One big question that often comes up in the Christian life is, “Why is God letting this happen to me?” Similarly, we ask what point trials, temptations, and tribulations have in our lives; it seems like they crush and hurt us, and when we’re in the middle of them, we struggle to stay afloat in the faith. We surely need a biblical anchor during trials!
The Westminster Confession talks about this under the topic of God’s sovereign providence. In 5.5 it says,
“The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold [various] temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts….”
Why? Why would a gracious God let his children go through this? Here are a few reason the Confession gives (edited slightly):
1) …to chastise them for their former sins,
2) or to discover unto [reveal to] them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled (2 Chr. 32:25-26, 31; Deut 8:2-3, 5; Lk 22:31-32)
3) and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself,
4) and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin,
5) and for sundry [various] other just and holy ends (Ps. 73:1-28, Ps. 77:1-12, Mk 14:66-72, 1 Cor. 12:7-9).
It is a great comfort to know that God, in his loving and sovereign providence, uses trials and temptations ultimately for our good. Knowing God is sovereign in his providence towards us means, as the Heidelberg Catechism says,
“We can be patient when things go against us (Ps. 39:10), thankful when things go well (1 Thes. 5:18), and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love (Rom. 8:35-39). All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved (Prov. 21:21, Acts 17:24-28)” (Q/A 28).