I've been going through some hard times lately. I'm a Christian, but have I done something wrong and God is punishing me for it? I don't know what I did wrong, but I sure wish I could get this behind me. — N.J.
God has allowed these trials to come into your life -- but He didn't necessarily cause them, nor is He necessarily punishing you for something you did wrong. In fact, God wants to use this to draw you closer to Himself -- and I pray this will be your experience.
After all, problems and trials are part of life. It's natural for us to shrink back from them, and we all wish we could be free of them and live a trouble-free life. But life isn't like this, and we all know it can radically change -- even in a matter of seconds. The real question is how we will react. Will we react in anger or despair? Will we lash out in hatred or revenge? Or will we turn to God in faith and seek His help?
Trials will either make you turn away from God or they will drive you to Him. If we turn to Him our faith grows stronger, and afterward we'll be better equipped to meet the next challenge that comes our way. The Bible says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:2-3).
This may seem difficult -- but I urge you to commit your problems to God and ask Him to help you grow spiritually stronger through them. Never forget: Jesus Christ went through far more than you ever will, and He will never abandon you.