I wonder how the people in Bible times would have reacted if they got a glimpse our modern means of transportation. Back then people would walk, and those that could afford it might benefit from riding a donkey, horse, or camel. Today, cars whisk us along at high speeds for hours at a time in comfort–depending on the vehicle, the road, and the driver. What a quantum leap in technology!
However, the Bible mentions some amazing transportation vehicles that are more impressive than the newest sports car. I’m referring to “chariots of God.” This is how the prophet Elijah was transported from earth to heaven. The Scripture records, “Then it happened, as they [Elijah and Elisha] continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more …” (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Years later Elisha and his servant would behold these chariots: “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him [Elisha], ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses andchariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:14-17). Likewise, we need God to open our eyes of faith to perceive His spiritual resources and providential purposes (Eph. 3:14-20).
In her devotional classic, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life , Hannah Whitall Smith compared God’s beneficial use of our difficulties to His chariots. She wrote of the need for faith to interpret tough circumstances in a positive way: “They do not look like chariots. They look instead like enemies, sufferings, trials, defeats, misunderstandings, disappointments, unkindnesses … but they really are chariots of triumph in which we may ride to those very heights of victory for which our souls have been longing and praying.” 
What changes a trial into a chariot? Mrs. Smith continued,
“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut car to crush us, or a chariot in which to ride to heights of victory. It all depends upon how we take them; whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us, or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot, and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward. Whenever we mount into God’s chariots the same thing happens to us spiritually that happened to Elisha. We shall have a translation. Not into the heavens above us, as Elisha did, but into the heaven within us [fellowship with the indwelling Holy Spirit] … These ‘heavenly places’ are interior, not exterior, and the road that leads to them is interior also. But the chariot that carries the soul over this road is generally some outward loss, or trial or disappointment.” 
As the epistle to the Hebrews puts it, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives … Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:6,11).
Mrs. Smith recalled an example of this principle in action:
“I knew a lady who had a very slow servant. She was an excellent girl in every other respect, and very valuable in the household, but her slowness was a constant source of irritation to her mistress, who was naturally quick, and who always chafed at slowness. The lady would consequently get out of temper with the girl twenty times a day, and twenty times a day would repent of her anger, and resolve to conquer it, but in vain. Her life was made miserable by the conflict. One day it occurred to her that she had for a long while been praying for patience, and that perhaps this slow servant was the very chariot the Lord had sent to carry her soul over into patience. She immediately accepted it as such, and from that time used the slowness of her servant as a chariot for her soul. And the result was a victory of patience that no slowness of anybody was ever after able to disturb.”
You might have noticed that this example involved a woman with a servant. You might wish for such “problems” of the upper class! Yes, the Smith family became quite prosperous, but she was no stranger to suffering. Take the circumstances in which she wrote part of this book. She was on a ship en route to England to assist her husband Robert with some Christian speaking engagements. She was dreadfully seasick for most of the trip due to the rough seas of the North Atlantic. Mrs. Smith’s biographer noted, “She often used her seasickness as the text for a plain and pointed moral lesson: feelings were unreliable; faithfulness was the important thing. Whether she felt inspired or uninspired was beside the point. It was God who did the work.” 
Hannah Smith’s life was not filled with comfortable circumstances. Four of her seven children died before reaching adulthood and her husband had several nervous breakdowns. Seasickness made ocean travel miserable. Yet, in her seventies she wrote The God of All Comfort, a book that is a tribute to her countless rides in God’s “chariots.”
This lesson states nothing less than the consoling promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
So how does the believer turn a trial into a chariot ride? Hannah Smith counsels us:
“Take each thing that is wrong in your lives as God’s chariot for you. No matter who the builder of the wrong may be, whether men or devils, by the time it reaches your side it is God’s chariot for you, and is meant to carry you to a heavenly place of triumph. Shut out all the second causes, and find the Lord in it. Say, ‘Lord, open my eyes that I may see, not the visible enemy, but thy unseen chariots of deliverance.’ Accept His will in the trial, whatever it may be, and hide yourself in His arms of love. Say, ‘Thy will be done; Thy will be done!’ over and over. Shut out every other thought but the one thought of submission to His will and of trust in His love. Make your trial thus your chariot, and you will find your soul ‘riding upon the heavens’ with God in a way you never dreamed could be.”
Such is the daily walk of faith to which our all-sufficient Savior calls us. It is a quantum leap from the pessimism of life apart from God. Yet, by His grace, we can climb into His chariots and ascend to spiritual freedom and joy.
 Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, chapter 19, paragraph 2
 ibid., chapter 19, paragraph 4-6
 ibid., chapter 19, paragraph 10
 Marie Henry, Hannah Whitall Smith (Bethany House), p.77.
 The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, ch 19, paragraph 25
The entire book is available free online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library – http://www.ccel.org
Copyright, 2000 by John B. Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.