The Glorious Trial
w/m - Bill & Karen Itzel
O glorious trial that we must face
That builds our strength to run the race
The trial that cannot be compared
To heaven’s glory waiting there
For God perfects each one He loves
And makes us like our Christ above
So let us walk each stony mile
And praise God for the glorious trial
Affliction helps us to endure
Endurance brings a hope that’s sure
So count it joy when trials come
We’ll be mature when they are done
O may we never curse the one
Whom out of love, the trial has come
But bless Him for His love and grace
And in the trial trust and obey
This song was one of the first hymns Karen and I ever wrote, and was written at a time when I was preparing for spinal surgery. They had to go in through my neck right next to my vocal chords, so there was a slight danger it would affect my voice. Even though the chances were slim, I knew of a friend in the same business who had this very same thing happen, at about the very same age, and it cost him quite a bit of his range. I was prepared for whatever God had in store for me, but I took a lot of time to read the scriptures on the subject of trials. This song was a great comfort to me (as was “Great is Thy Faithfulness”). It proved to be a great comfort to our family and many other families since.
O glorious trial that we must face. I wanted to use an adjective that didn’t seem to naturally accompany the word “trial”, yet told of the underlying blessing trials can be in our lives. Trials are not something we can avoid, nor should we want to. We don’t have to learn from them, but we must face them. That builds our strength to run the race. Both Romans 5 and James 1 make it very clear that the purpose for trials is to build patience and endurance in us in areas where we are weak. The trial that cannot be compared to heaven’s glory waiting there. Paul said in Romans 8 that the “Sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That’s perspective!
For God perfects each one He loves and makes us like our Christ above. Job 5:17, Psalm 94:12, Proverbs 3:11–12, and Hebrews 12:6 all speak of God’s discipline for His children. God prunes us because He loves us, and trials are the instrument He uses. Our ultimate goal is Christ-likeness. So let us walk each stony mile and praise God for the glorious trial. Sometimes it seems like each day of this life, each mile of this journey, is harder than the last. If we are growing in Christ-likeness, that is truly the case, for the stronger we become in the faith, the more difficult the trial must be to continue to test us. Our only requirement is to trust God in the midst of the test.
Affliction helps us to endure. Endurance brings a hope that’s sure. This is directly from Romans 5, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” So count it joy when trials come. We rejoice, and as James says, “Count it all joy” for the perfect gift that trials are. We’ll be mature when they are done. The goal is maturity. God uses trials as well as people to disciple us through the trials with spiritual gifts for the purpose of maturity (Ephesians 4:13).
O may we never curse the one whom out of love, the trial has come. One of the ways we know we are Christ’s is our response in trials. Do we run to God or run away from God? If someone claims to be a believer and is constantly blaming God for their circumstances, they should “Examine themselves” and make sure they are in the faith. At worst, they are not truly saved, at best, they are believer who is not learning anything from the trial process. But bless Him for His love and grace and in the trial trust and obey. This last line sums up how we are to respond in this process of growing through trials, “Trust and obey.” God does not call us to defeat our trial, or dodge our trial, or blame our trial on Satan and cast it out. God calls for us to trust Him and obey Him. If we do that, we will grow and be found faithful. That is what makes the trial so glorious.
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.