Last time we looked at one of the three challenges we have in life…tests. This week we will at least start on trials and go into persecution if time permits.
Trials… Trials are different from tests. A definition of a trial is the exercise of patience or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation. Trials are difficult. Trials are hardships. God does not give us trials. Trials are from Satan. They are the result of our own or other’s disobedience to God. God allows them to happen. God allows trials to teach us. It would not be proper for someone to do wrong or to not stand up in the face of wrong and face no trial or hardship, because without consequence, there would be no change of behavior or victory.
The liberal platform would seem to promote no trials. They want no personal responsibility for poor behavior or no challenge to stand up for God’s principles in the face of opposition. If you do not want to work…no problem…their system will take care of you. If one wants to have promiscuous sex with as many partners as one likes, and one gets pregnant or causes a pregnancy, not a problem. One can have an abortion…murder an unborn child. In many cases failure in tests results in trials. God will not bless one for sinful behavior and one certainly will not earn His favor. In fact one may earn a trial.
Just a reminder that trials will not always come to one who is a blatant sinner. The ultimate example of such a trial comes to us in the book of Job. God allowed Satan to place hardships (trials) on Job. God allowed the angel of light to put Job through trials. It was because of Job’s sin…self-righteousness. The Bible says Job justified himself rather than God. Throughout almost the entire book, Job said compare me to anyone…I am righteous and innocent. What he forgot was that we are righteous because of God and not because of what we do. [Job 32:1-2]. Job lost everything except for his own life and his wife. He lost his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep and his camels. These animals allowed Job to work the fields which provided food and transportation. Job lost his children and his health. Now that is a trial! Eventually, God questions Job directly. It is done to teach Job a lesson about being self-righteous. How many today are suffering from this affliction and are going to have to endure a trial to fix the problem? I know I did. It will put into perspective just how small we are in comparison to God. [Job 38:4-41]. It is not possible to have the wisdom and knowledge of God. Eventually Job repents of his sin of self-righteousness as his trial taught him a lesson about pride. Sin will cause us to go through trials in life. They are allowed to teach us valuable lessons about sin. All the liberal platforms in the world will not let us escape. But we can be restored. The Bible says, “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.” [Job 42:12]. I thoroughly believe this!
Know that all things work together for good to those who love God. This we need to know and understand. Each one of us sin and we do not have the knowledge and wisdom of God. As a result, we will all go through trials. It is through those trials that we can learn and should repent. If we do not learn and repent, we will continue to go through more trials until we do.
A good example is in the life of Chuck Colson, a member of the Nixon Administration in the 1970’s. In 1974, he was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglaries. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. This was his trial for what he had done in life. Colson was subsequently sentenced to prison. Realizing his failure and need for strength from Jesus, before entering prison he gave his life to the Lord. While in prison he ministered to other inmates and upon completion of his sentence he decided to devote the rest of his life to Christian ministry. In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, a Christian organization that would preach the Gospel in prisons around the world. It became the world’s largest prison ministry. Colson saw the truth, repented, loved God and was restored. Sometimes a stay in prison can be the best thing to ever happen to a person. It is an opportunity to take our focus off of the world and our troubles and put it on God and our relationships…I know!
If we think that trusting and obeying God exempts us from problems, we’re mistaken. God is not a genie in a bottle who does whatever we want at our bidding and at our convenience. God is totally good and all-powerful, but we don’t control Him. He doesn’t give us a blank check to spend as we see fit. We must recognize and trust the purposes of God, even in the painful crises of life. Our natural inclination is to attribute meaning to inexplicable events, and often that leads us to try to figure out who is to blame for a tragedy. Might we wonder if our loved one’s illness and our prayers attracted God’s attention to sin in our own life? Might that sin have brought about a need for punishment and that punishment being meted out through the death of that loved one…in my case, my wife. Then in times of pain, we often lash out at those closest to us…even those who have shown much love for us…I did. If I had not been angry at what had transpired in my life, my trial might not have happened. How often do we see situations around us that do not make sense in our finite understanding? We ask what was God trying to prove? The good news is that God doesn’t reject our honest questions. It’s out arrogant demands that He refuses. But to see God’s activities, either through reading about them in the Bible or through seeing them carried out in our lives, is to see God’s truth in action. God’s purpose was to stress the trust that He wanted me to have in Him.
No matter what sins we have committed or trials we go through in life, God can and does restore us. We must be willing. We must learn the truth, repent, and love God. God will then use those circumstances and trials for good. Once someone has found God and repented, God will use them and their experiences to minister to others.
The Bible says, ” 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.” [Romans 8:28]. In times of crisis, we are learning to look to the power of the God of resurrection.
“The Bible talks about how God uses difficult situations to develop our character and get us stronger.” Joel Osteen
“Let the trials of life make you a giant, not a midget.” Warren Wiersbe
“Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” Charles Spurgeon
The Bible says, “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, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” [James 1:2-8]
Next week we will discuss persecution. It is not a test and it is not a trial. What is it? We will investigate.
– Bob Munsey
“Poverty of purpose is worse than poverty of purse.”