Q: Is it true that the more you ask for God’s guidance and the chance to change for the better, the more you receive tougher trials?
A: What comes to my mind immediately is the Parable of the Talents In this parable, Jesus talks about the three stewards who are given a portion of their master’s goods for safekeeping while he is away. One of them takes what he is given and invests it, doubling his master’s talents. The second steward also invests his portion, and also realizes a profit for his master. But the third steward buries his talent in the earth, and gives back just the one talent just as it was given to him. Jesus rewards the first two stewards by giving them even more and higher responsibility, but from the third steward, he takes away what he has given him and gives it to the more productive stewards, leaving him with nothing. He has squandered his chance to progress in his master’s household by ignoring the talent which was entrusted to him.
in this parable (see the above link), Jesus says:
“To every one who has, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him who has not, even that which he has shall be taken away. You cannot stand still in the affairs of the eternal kingdom. My Father requires all his children to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth. You who know these truths must yield the increase of the fruits of the spirit and manifest a growing devotion to the unselfish service of your fellow servants. And remember that, inasmuch as you minister to one of the least of my brethren, you have done this service to me.
Even in our material world, one might assume that with more responsibility will come more challenge. Likewise, in the spiritual kingdom, those who are willing to invest their “talents” can also expect to reap the greater challenges, and also the greater return for their efforts. When we make the effort to ask God for help, that is like making an investment in those talents. Growing in “grace and in a knowledge of the truth”—yielding an “increase in the fruits of the spirit” and becoming more devoted to the “unselfish service” of the brotherhood naturally imply gradually more complex and difficult situations to overcome with goodness. But those who grow like that have also greater help and greater capacity for success. They have proved themselves in the smaller things, and so, they are entrusted with the greater as they progress, helping them to grow even more.
It is like a person who is an aspiring long-distance runner; at first, they might be able to run one mile with difficulty. But after running that distance successfully for awhile, they become better able to increase their speed and distance, so that in time they may have conditioned themselves to run a marathon, where once that might have seemed impossible. The increased training has made them more capable of handling the greater challenge with ease. It is their determination and persistence in their training that has made the marathon possible.
I think that it is like that with us in our quest for the perfection of God. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction to be had when we do our best to prove ourselves worthy of the talents that we have been given, by using and increasing them. Remember that “progress” is the watchword of the universe. We cannot sit still and expect to progress; there’s the danger that we might tend to stagnate, or even go backwards. Progress always implies increasing responsibility and increasing chance for success. But the increased duty is manageable because we have done the necessary work beforehand in the smaller things. I think it is true that God does not give us problems to deal with that we are not capable of overcoming.
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Again, thanks for writing to us with this important question…”