December 16, 2015

How our Trials Give us Strength

I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in the crystal-clear shallows of a peaceful tropical ocean. I have absolutely no conception of such a blissful existence. My life is more like the deep sea when a sudden storm pops up. That’s the way it’s always been for me.

Rough times are a part of most peoples’ lives. In fact, many individuals go through setbacks they fear will defeat them.  Personally, I have been through so many tempests powerful enough to crush me, I’ve lost count by now. Yet, I’m still here. So are you. We are still standing, and we are stronger than we were previous to our trials. Aren’t we?

The great philosopher, Friedrich Nietzche, gave us one of the most famous quotes on the topic: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Truer words were never said! Of all the quotes I learned during my liberal arts college career, this one stands out.

How do hardships make us tougher?

They strengthen our inner core of faith and confidence. While our bodies and minds may seem to be sickly, weak, or confused, we have a reservoir of divine power in our souls. It’s usually in our darkest times that we are able to/forced to truly connect with it.


This is a regular hardwood tree. It is the kind of tree that will bend and crack in severe storms. Its roots are not deep enough to survive high winds, and its trunk will not move with the strong winds.

Conversely, the palm tree can survive hurricanes. How does it accomplish this amazing feat? It can bend into an almost horizontal position with the winds. When the storm has passed, the tree will usually return to its regular height, or close to it, as if nothing has happened. In addition, tempests strengthen the palm tree’s root system.


He is an older friend who has had health challenges for most of his life. Particularly in recent years, he has been overwhelmed with numerous operations. We really didn’t know how long he’d survive after the last one. I’m not saying it’s good that he has been miserable for decades. However, here’s how he became stronger:

  • Kinder, gentler disposition
  • Eats healthier 
  • Lost quite a bit of weight

The Bible

This is an image of the young shepherd boy, David, and the giant Philistine, Goliath. The story of their fight is found in I Samuel, chapter 17. David won the battle, but everything was against him:

  • No armor 
  • No training as a warrior 
  • Small stature

David’s trial, his “Goliath”, promoted him in the end. The poor, small shepherd boy who was disrespected by his own family became king over a united Israel within two decades.  He needed to overcome huge trials in order to prepare for his true calling: the monarchy.

My Conclusion

For more about strength through trials, please view my book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds.

How have your setbacks set you up for a better life?

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