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How Trials Refine Our Faith: Jesus as the Super-Piling

How Do Trials Refine Faith?

The best answer I’ve heard was given by John Piper in a seminary class on I Peter.

He was illustrating 1 Peter 1:6-7, and said something like this —

You Are A Pier

Imagine that you are a pier stretching out over the ocean.  Just as every pier rests on pilings, so our lives rest on pilings of health, job, and friends to give us joy and security.

But when you were saved you saw that only Jesus Christ could give you the joy and security you craved — and you invited Him to be the Super-Piling of your life.

As you rested your weight on Him, you found that He was strong and solid, and you felt security and peace like you’d never known.

But even though most of our weight is resting on Jesus Christ, some of our security and satisfaction still rests on other pilings  — like health, or employment, or friendships.

And to the extent that we rest on other pilings we will have less security and joy in Jesus Christ.

Trials Are Storm Waves

So, in great love and wisdom, God sends trials — storm waves — against our pier.

Every trial that comes our way shakes a piling we rest on.  Maybe a strange pain in your side shakes the piling of health, or rumors of layoffs shake the piling of employment, or an awkward conversation shakes the piling of friendships.

When these other pilings get shaken, that reminds us that Jesus Christ cannot be shaken.  He is the Super-Piling.

And when we see that, we take whatever security and satisfaction we had resting on other pilings, and put it onto Jesus Christ, relying on Him more and more.

The Result

That´s why God sends trials, to help us see the weakness of other pilings, so we will take our trust off other pilings, and place it all the more in Jesus Christ.

The less we rely on other pilings, and the more we rely on Jesus Christ, the more security and joy we will have.

Which is why we can rejoice in trials.  Because even though it’s hard when pilings shake, God is doing this to give us stronger faith in Christ, so we can experience even more security and joy in Him.

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20 Responses

  1. Brad Keller says:

    Great post! I love the piling illustration. That is really a helpful way to think about trials. Jesus is the super piling! Great.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      You are so welcome, brother. Thanks for your comment — and let’s keep trusting the Super-Piling!

      • Marie Picard says:

        If I am to be trusting and leaning on him in my trial of unemployment why then is my help coming from everywhere BUT Him? My church, my family, my friends…and now even they are concerned that God has not provided a way. When an elder of my church started showing concern that I may end up homeless at 61 with no where to go, I’ve cried out to God even louder but now fear is overcoming me. More and more trials seem to be heaped on me instead of release. MY 16 yr old grandson OD’D last week and is now under evaluation…his psychosis is about religion and shows no signs of healing. One of my daughter’s (age 35) is being mean and hateful while dragging my 16 mo old grandaughter from one risky situation to another. I’m unemployed because I resigned 6/3 to be closer to my terminally ill father who then passed 6/15…why am I still waiting for answers. THIS is tattering my faith, not strengthening it. THERE’S so many more trials not mentioned, but no matter. My church, family, and friends are praying consistently for me. Yes I’m studying the bible, watching my favorite programs such as In Touch, Joyce Meyer, 700 Club, etc., and praying my guts out. I have family and friends, saved and unsaved, watching my struggles…I can’t afford to let them see me shaking and growing weary but I am only one person and I’m human, not Jesus, where are my answers???? Suicide is heavy on my mind. I’m even conducting a book study in my home on Saturdays on Spiritual Warfare…so not like me but had the idea and decided to try it. This Sat will be the 4th one. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG???? My dad was my greatest spiritual mentor and rock, I am alone now trying to figure this out!!!!

        • Steve Fuller says:

          I am so sorry for what you are going through, Marie. And I would definitely encourage you to keep on praying and trusting God’s promises.

          It might be that you aren’t doing anything wrong at all. Job was the most righteous man in the world, and God allowed great trials to come upon him.

          And you can be confident that every day this trial continues, is another day that God wants to bless you with even more of his sustaining strength and grace.

          In Christ,

          Steve Fuller

        • Fillest says:

          Hello Marie, although late just reading your post. Would love for you to update at this time because God was working through your church, your friends, praying and supporting you. He was there then and even now. How are you now?

    • Maureen Banza says:

      Thank you for the illustration – God is calling us to mature in Jesus Christ.

  2. Rick Jacobi says:

    Steve, this was my first look at the at blog and very encouraging… great stuff. I was really blessed by the super piling, and other trial issues you addressed.


  3. Étienne says:

    Very encouraging. Thank you so much. 🙂

  4. kay says:

    the analogy to a pier really hit the spot.
    thankyou ,I needed to read this today and to be thankful for storms and hurricanes and even tornados

  5. Jane says:

    Thank you for this post, its one of those things that you “know” but God reminds us when we let our mind slip.
    I am currently facing unemployment after graduating (the last graduation was just as the recession hit so I decided to study again to make myself more employable however I am finding that after 6 months things are worse than they were during my first graduation)

    I know that God has promised me a job but I am getting fed up and my mind has been so caught up on the fact that I need a job that God has gone out so it is a nice reminder that God is the only ‘piling’ in my life that cannot be shook, He is a constant God.

    Thank you for this post 🙂

  6. monadd says:

    I just came across this blog as I was desperately searching for some pillar of support, as I was restless and without peace after a choice that I have made about my career. I could not agree more after reading this paragraph,
    “The Result:
    That´s why God sends trials, to help us see the weakness of other pilings, so we will take our trust off other pilings, and place it all the more in Jesus Christ.”
    I am just bearing witness that I totally experienced and felt the same thing just today and the same is emphasized here, giving me full backing and clarity about what I have done, and I no longer regret my action, to choose Him above everything else. So that my mind comes out of the turmoil and I leave all my double-mindedness right here, as i bear witness for My Lord. Truly I believe Our Saviour brings on trials just to let us cut our evil ways one by one, and bring us more closer to Him alone.
    I believe in it absolutely from today.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I am so encouraged reading your words here, monadd. Thank you for sharing your story. I love how you put it — God brings us trials to help us cut our evil ways one by one, and to bring us closer to him alone. Onward!

  7. Michelle Lowe says:

    Steve, son of God,
    I can’t tell you just how much your Super-Pilings description of Jesus has blessed my walk with Him. The storms have hit/are hitting my pier with loss of relationship, loss of income, but during this period I knew that the Lord had work for me to do nonetheless…HIS work. At the same time, on the last Sunday in 2013 my pastor gave his apostle’s address and it was that the Lord said 2014 is the year we eat. As in His word, and to get full on it so that we may be blessed and be holy. Yes, the Holy Spirit through the pastor said E.A.T. means Education + Application = Transformation. And thanks be to God, He is showing me who I am in Christ Jesus. No longer who I was, but who I am now, no matter that people keep insisting I’m still the old Michelle. The Lord led me to your blog and Steve, I am incredibly blessed by it. The lessons in life are to trust in the Lord, even in the face of uncertainty and unfamiliar terrain because He is Omnipresent, loves us more than we can fathom and only He can see ahead with all certainty.

  8. Rev. Premdas U. Koutikkar says:

    Respected Sir,

    Greetings to you in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Today I am blessed by your Articles I am praying for you. May God bless you and God be with you.

    Thanking you

    Rev. Premdas U. Koutikkar

  9. Bobby says:

    Thank you, the illustration of the Pilings, is a great inspiration to me it renforced in me that in our weakest points in life, gods word stands true that he is our strength during our weakness.

    Thank you,


  10. Steve,

    Thanks for the pier analogy. I see it is spot on. Its truly odd and awful when unexplainable adversarial attitudes arise in loved ones and they suddenly turn away as if you didn’t exist or matter. It’s awful when your jobs yield no income and like Pharoah demanding the tale of bricks when supplying no morter, you have invested all you can only to find whips and sneers. So odd. “But Lord, I’m the guy people like!” Obviously that too is a pier of my construction! Its all about decimated and so I felt God had abandoned. I have not yet seen through the fog yet, no direction is clear except that I have been trying to start a ministry for years and it seems God isn’t allowing it. Yet he speaks every day in the word to me. I write down what I see. I want to finish my book and I keep getting more and more insights! Its overwhelming. That is what so frustrates me. Even my knowledge of the Bible, the love I have for others, is coming up short. Is it wrong to wonder why God who by the spirit showed Paul so much about exchanging gifts with other believers causes a person to be odious when they used to be popular? I don’t get it. The closer I want to get, the further away it seems I end up! I want to share, not for my glory, God knows. If anyone has any insights, please email at – Thanks!

    All I can say is at this point, this article is timely and appreciated. I read all the other posts and agree. I honor and respect the writer for obeying. It is a blessing to my heart at a time I needed it.

    Thanks again to all.


  11. BN says:

    I love this post, and your whole blog in general!

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