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  • Paul Reich

Why Me, Lord?

Some get bitter in trials; others get better. Our response determines if difficulties grow us or shatter us.


Photo by Ivan Lonan on Unsplash


During very busy seasons of life and ministry where most of my attention has to be given to other priorities, I've decided it best to post articles that I have previously written for other purposes. The post below is a short article I wrote for a faith feature in a local newspaper in 2006. Other than several minor edits, I added two footnotes to source or clarify the content.


The story is told of a man in New York who wasn’t feeling well as he got on the subway to go home. The longer he rode, the sicker he felt. His stomach convulsed with nausea and he became desperate to find relief. He finally moved to the door. As the train slowed to a halt at an intermediary station, the door opened and he suddenly left his lunch all over a man who was standing on the platform. The door then closed and the train rolled on. The man standing on the platform looked heavenward and simply said, “Why me, Lord?”

At some point in life, we’ve all felt like this man dowsed with vomit. Sometimes we face problems of our own making because of our own wrong choices or actions. Other times we “encounter” trials due to no fault of our own. When life throws up on us, we may question, “Why me?” Regardless of the cause, God promises that if we respond to trials properly, they will be useful for His purposes and for our maturing. This is James’ point as he writes to believers who had been scattered to other countries because of persecution.

"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." (James 1:2-4, NASB)

Trials are inevitable. James does not say, “Consider it all joy if you encounter various trials,” but “when.” The Bible assumes trials to be a part of life. The Greek word for “various” denotes “parti-colored” or “variegated.” Our term “polka dot” comes from this word. James is indicating that we can expect life to be dotted with trials of various sizes and shapes.

The question is not, “Will we encounter trials?” Be assured that in this life problems will come. The better question is, “How will we respond when we encounter trials?” The hermit spider takes nectar and turns it into poison; the honey bee takes nectar and turns it into honey. In the same way, some people become bitter in trials and others become better. The key to avoiding the poison of bitterness and experiencing the honey of "betterness," is in our response to the difficulties that come our way.

When viewed properly, trials are not to be seen as enemies, but “welcomed as friends.”[1] James calls us to view trials with “all joy.” Unlike happiness which is dependent on happenings or circumstances, joy is an internal sense of hope and assurance that is independent of external circumstances because it is dependent on an unchanging and faithful God regardless of the situation. We can have joy in times of trial because we are not living to experience good circumstances, but to experience God who “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He is present and sufficient for our every need.

We can also have joy in trials when we see their purpose. If we respond correctly, God will use trials to produce good in our lives. James teaches that trials prove our faith.[2] They demonstrate that our trust in God is deeply rooted in an unshakeable confidence in His faithfulness and goodness amidst life’s storms. We learn to trust God not just because life is good, we learn to trust God because He is good. He is faithful and good even when life is hard.

Like muscles grow through resistance, faith and character can grow through trials.

Trials also develop maturity and character. As we learn to endure the difficulties that come our way, James tells us that these trials will perfect and complete us. The Greek idea behind the term “perfect” is not so much that we will become flawless, but that we will become mature. A ripe apple is perfect even if it has a blemish because it has reached its full potential. If we will cooperate with God and endure, He will use trials to grow us so that we too will reach our full potential.

The next time you encounter a trial, instead of asking, “Why me, Lord?” ask, “Lord, what can I learn from this difficulty? Show me Your faithfulness and goodness and help me to grow in this challenging time.” With a right response to the nectar of life’s trials, you will make honey, not poison. In the end you will come out better for having gone through the trial.


[1] "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!" (James 1:2, PHILLIPS).

[2] The Greek word used here for "testing" means "proved genuine or trustworthy." Much like a plumber pressure tests the plumbing in a house to assure that there are no leaks or a manufacturer tests a product to determine its durability, trials prove that our faith is genuine and reliable. Genuine faith will stand strong and grow under life's pressures.

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Allan Pole
Allan Pole

Well said, Paul! I admire people who go through exceedingly difficult times and come out stronger. We can, too, with a Christ-like attitude and the Lord's help!



Another excellent post Paul! Brother, you have a gift for arranging words, knowledge and illustrations to shed light and bring encouragement. Thank you! I especially liked the hermit spider/honeybee example in this post. 😊

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