As we experience trials, we usually question their benefit and say, at least within ourselves, "How long, O LORD?"
As I reflect on this month and the trials I know many have been undergoing, let me try to provide one person's perspective on the value of trials.
Near the end of the book of Genesis, when Joseph has been reunited with his family, speaking to the brothers who had wished him dead, Joseph said, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (Genesis 50:19b-20; NASB). God had refined Joseph through the trials he experienced in Egypt so that he could come to this conclusion. He was no longer the sallow, shallow youth of 17 or so who bragged of his dreams.
At the beginning of the book of Job, we hear this statement by God regarding Job: "For there is no one like him on the earth; a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:8b; NASB). Yet God had a purpose in what we refer to as Job's sufferings. At the end of the book, Job says to God, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.... I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes" (Job 4:2-3, 5-6; NASB). Although Job may never have been privy to the interactions between God and Satan early in the book, God brought him to a place of greater humility through his trials. There is always room for sanctification until heaven.
Sometimes we undergo trials because God is disciplining us. I can vouch for this. Read Hebrews 12:7-11: "It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Going through the experience of discipline, we see nothing joyful or useful. Only afterwards can we agree that it does yield "the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
What about suffering for doing what is right?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this: "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-11). Those who are persecuted do not perceive any blessing in their persecution. What is called for is trusting God and His Word.
Peter wrote more regarding the matter of suffering: "Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, that for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:13-17).
Hebrews 12:3: "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
What about trials which seem to have no reason to them?
Let me share with you some Scripture passages which help me when I ask this question,
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is in abundance through Christ" (1:3-5; NASB).
And in his first letter, Peter wrote, "Therefore humble yourselves under the might hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.... After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen" (5:6-7, 10-11; NASB).
And one of my favorite verses is James 1:12: "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (NASB).
Trials refine us, make us more useful, bless us, and cause us to experience what God promised: greater Christ-likeness (1John 2:28=-3:3).