God will use painful trials...to hone us, but he doesn’t cause all of them.
Some of my readers will need some help with this because they’ve been taught a theology that God causes all things. So they have had to swallow hard and accept the view that God caused them to be sexually abused, God caused their mother to die a premature death, God caused their son or daughter to abandon the faith. Oh, friends, this is a horrible view of God and a profound heresy. Listen:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13–15 NIV 2011)
James makes it clear in this passage that God does not tempt anyone to sin, nor does he go on to cause them to sin. But people are tempted every day; they go on to sin every day. So, then, things happen every single day that God is not causing. God does not make anyone sin, but people sin every day, and those sins have terrible consequences. This is not God doing these things. Do you see what an important difference it makes?