Recently my wife, Marlene, and I received a panicky phone call from our son and his wife. The night before, they had found two bats in their house. I know bats are an important part of the ecosystem, but they are not my favorite among God’s creatures, especially when they are flying around inside.

Yet Marlene and I were thankful we could go over to our kids’ house and help. We helped them to plug the holes that might have been used by these unwelcome visitors to enter their house.

Another unwelcome visitor that often intrudes into our lives is suffering. When trials come, we can easily panic or lose heart. But these difficult circumstances can become the instruments our loving heavenly Father uses to make us more like Christ. That’s why James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work” (James 1:2-4).

We are not expected to enjoy trials or to celebrate suffering. But when these unwelcome visitors arrive, we can look for God’s hand in them and trust that He can use them to make us more like His Son.