Trials and Tribulations- Spiritual manure for our faith, and God’ s opportunity
Brethren, most common question in the mind of some Christians is, “why me of all these troubles?” Have you ever ask yourself in time of comfort, peace and abundance, “why you of all these goodness?” Let us go into the message together.
King David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:67&71 NIV
One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. The seemingly good question in anyone’s mind would be, “why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear?” Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.
Lessons in Affliction
When affliction comes our way, what is God teaching us? What is the value of affliction? In Psalm 119:71 the Psalmist says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Is this our confession when God sends us afflictions or do we murmur and complain that God does not understand what He is doing? So often the latter response is the case. We think we know better than God because we have not learned the important lessons in afflictions. But there are invaluable lessons that we can learn from afflictions.
One lesson we can learn during our afflictions is that they are not about us, but about God. When God sends us an affliction, it is to get our attention to the fact that God is in control of our lives. Afflictions are meant to draw our attention to God. This fact alone is worth every affliction that God could send our way. So often we go through life without little thought of God. Afflictions have a way of bringing life to a screeching halt and leading us to see that we are finite human beings and God is the infinite, Almighty and all-knowing God. That is why the Psalmist said “it was good to have been afflicted.” It drove him back to God and His statutes. Similarly, if our little children gets caught up with some bullies in school or play-ground, they quickly run to their teachers or parents for help, protection and defence. So also affliction ought to drive us back to God and His Word. As we do so, we will learn that God is not afflicting us arbitrarily, but that He is doing so as our Heavenly Father and that He might do us good at our latter end (Deut. 8:5,16).
Another lesson we can learn during affliction is that God is more concerned about our salvation and sanctification than He is concerned about our usefulness in any particular area of life. That is a staggering thought! When sickness sets in or unemployment hits, or natural disasters strike, our lives can be rendered seemingly useless in a moment. Our first thought is, what am I going to do now? But have you ever considered this thought, “What is God telling me now? How am I going to be changed through this affliction? How will I be more fit for glory?” Such a mindset gives a different perspective in affliction – it gives a certain element of sweetness to know that Christ is being formed in us, rather than our own wretched sinful nature being perpetuated.
Again, afflictions can draw out what is in our own hearts.
Afflictions are sent to show our true mettle to others around us. We are always giving a witness in the midst of affliction.
Afflictions will tell others where our trust is – whether in God or in ourselves.
Afflictions will be used or abused. When they are used rightly, we will use them to witness to others about the goodness of God. When we abuse them, we will complain and murmur against God for dealing us another blow. What is in your heart?
Is it good that you have been afflicted because it brought you to reckon with God again? Is it good that you have been afflicted because it brought you to trust in Christ for the first time or afresh? Is it good that you have been afflicted because it taught you to glorify God and be a witness of the goodness of God to others? If so, that is the only way it can be good to have been afflicted.
As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.
Trials help us to develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.
Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).
Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Friends, in every situation and circumstances, the scripture encourages us to always give glory to God for who He is. He loves us and it will surely end well in Jesus’ Name.
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