written by Tim Peters
Scripture teaches us that in this life we will face trials. Job states this in Job 14:1, “Man, who is born of women, is short-lived and full of turmoil. . .” Jesus said it in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation. . .” James also promises trials as he wrote in James 1:2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” For Patti and me, the calendar year 2015 seemed full of turmoil, tribulation, and various trials. All required us to trust our Sovereign God as we dealt with the loss of employment for a family member, the death of an unbelieving brother-in-law after a lengthy illness, a reoccurrence of a potentially deadly disease in a family member, and dealing with the onset of dementia in an aging family member. Each of these trials could have become overwhelming if we did not have the promises of scripture to lean on and a loving Heavenly Father who promises to never leave us nor forsake us. (Deut. 31:6-8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)
Scripture gives us many examples of men and women who faced trials tailor-made for them by our Heavenly Father. If we look at the lives of Joseph, Job, Daniel, Moses, Ruth, and Esther, we find men and women who were effected by times of trouble, and yet they trusted God. Even Jesus’ life was filled with trouble. The writer of Hebrews states in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses as He was tempted in all things just as we are. Trials in our life vary from simple to long-term. Some may even last a lifetime. Paul was given a lifetime thorn in the flesh to remind him that Paul that God’s grace was sufficient and that power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
God uses trials as a means to produce endurance of faith. James 1:3 says, “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect results, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Peter notes the same in I Peter 1:6, 7, “In this (being born again to a living hope) you greatly rejoice even though now for a little while, you have been distressed by various trials, knowing that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold, even though tested by fire, maybe found to result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We are also reminded in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God has prepared a way through trials and temptations. While we may not chose particular trials, the purpose of God is clear. He uses trials to perfect our faith.
Alan Redpath who was the pastor at Moody Church in Chicago from 1955 to 1962 stated it this way, “There is nothing – no circumstance, no trouble, no testing – that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose or blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret – for I shall rest in the joy of who my Lord is! That is the rest of victory!”
Throughout the Psalms we are reminded of the concept that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46; cf. Psalm 14:6, 23:4, 27:1, 62:7,8). When Israel was facing destructive judgment for their rebellion, God reminded them in Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” In Isaiah 43:2, God tells Israel, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and though the rivers they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” This also gives great comfort to the believer.
Proverbs 3:5 and 6 reminds us not to trust human wisdom: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
The bottom line when facing trials or temptations is to cling to the promises of God found in scripture and remember the promises of Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”