We think of trials as matters that bring humiliation. That is not how God sees them. He lovingly allows trials to give us something we desperately need but can’t possibly seek on our own. Trials give us the great spiritual gift of humility. When the last thing that we ever expected happens to us, we come to see that even that can work together for our good if we are seeking God (Romans 8:28).
Humility is the foundation of all spiritual growth. Humility is produced through coming to see God for who He is and seeing ourselves for who we are. It has nothing to do with humiliation; it has everything to do with broadening our perspective of how great God is and how blessed we are to be loved by Him. As we grow in our love for God, a deeper humility will be produced in us. How can we feel otherwise once we have opened our eyes to His great love for us?
How can God love us so? David wondered it in Psalm 8:3-4:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
If you haven’t wondered the same thing yet, begin looking for a deeper awareness of who God is.
We think humility is produced by looking within ourselves. We consider how fallen, fouled-up and flawed we are. It really doesn’t take much effort to identify the reasons that we fall short of God. That kind of thinking about us is not humility. In fact, it is pride. It is based on the reasoning that if only we can identify the ways we fall short, they can be rectified. Spiritual progress is hindered by this kind of thinking.
Humility, on the other hand, is wonder at the great God who made us. Psalm 8:1 says,
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”
Trials have so much power in helping us gain the spiritual virtue of humility because they lead us to the end of ourselves. It is through the experience of facing something that is absolutely bigger than we can face that we come to see that God is greater than all our mistakes. He is greater than the evil that can come against us. He is more than we can ask or think! Trials bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can see with our hearts, minds and spirits that God is enough. Knowing that God is enough is true humility.
This is what Paul described about Jesus when he wrote,
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8).
What creates humility like Christ demonstrated? Great love for God. What produces great love for God in trials? Coming to the end of yourself and seeing that God’s love is all you have to get you through.
You are very blessed if you can see humility in yourself. The only way you can humble yourself is to believe that you are safe in the arms of One greater than yourself. That is the gift of humility best produced through trials.
Everyone who loves God and leaves this world with a pure heart is an arch-beggar.
Mechthild of Magdeburg—The Flowing Light of Godhead