God expects us to pray that we will escape trials, and we should do it. . . . As we attentively make this prayer a part of our constant bearing in life, we will see how God indeed does keep us from trials and deliver us from evil. Constantly. We will see how often good things happen even to "bad" people--as well as to the good. And of course, we will find we do have trials, and that some bad things come to everyone. No one is totally exempt. We can count on that too.
But we will also become assured that any trial or evil that comes upon us has a special function in God's plans. As with daily provision of food, there is continuous provision for every need, no matter how dire. We may not always have it ahead of time, but often right when we need it from the God who is right there with us. Our bedrock certainty of this will stand firmly upon our many experiences of the presence and goodness of our Father. We will have firsthand experience of how his strength is brought to perfection in our lives precisely by our weaknesses, combined with hopeful faith.
Here lies the secret of Paul's astonishing testimony: "So, living for Christ, I am delighted when I experience weaknesses, insults, desperate needs, persecutions and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am powerful" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
It is precisely this experience-based assurance that is expressed in the great psalms, such as 23, 34, 37, and 91. These and similar passages in the scriptures trouble many people because they seem to promise too much--to be, frankly, unrealistic. But they do not promise that we will have no trials, as human beings understand trials. They promise, instead, totally unbroken care, along with God-given adequacy to whatever happens.
(Image: book cover slice)