The next stage of the spiritual journey includes trials and temptations. Many trials and many temptations. Generally speaking, either in life or when watching a character work through this journey in film, this is the bulk of time spent. We have so many things to work through, confront, and overcome before we are prepared. The preparation is for the final mountain to climb or to dive deep into the abyss (to mix metaphors). It’s the preparation for the greatest struggle and every step along the way is necessary.
Scripture, in particular the New Testament writings, speaks specifically to trials and temptations. James 1:2-4 is probably the verse referenced most often in the context of trials:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The Apostle Peter also references trials in 1 Peter 1:6-7:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though we often point to the Cross when connecting the idea of trials and temptations to Jesus, Christ refers directly to trials in Luke 22:28-30:
You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Trials and temptations are real and they will be rewarded. It is also important to remember that nothing will be wasted in the process. Erwin McManus spoke to this idea in his weekly message through the Mosaic podcast just this past week. As we work through difficulty, nothing will be wasted in the process. We will need and use all of the lessons learned in our journey, and everything we go through has value.
In this vein, I think about Roy Hobbs from The Natural and The Lady in White. She is his long-since-forgotten love from back on the farm, the one that he left behind to chase his dream. But, right in the middle of a road trip, there she is. An experience not wasted and on opportunity to learn. As you work through a trial yourself, or as your watch a character work through it in film, remember that every lesson learned will be used for good. Nothing is wasted.