August 25, 2016
We all face trials. Just when we think we have the world by the tail things can go wrong. Maybe that’s the problem…having the world by the tail instead of taking God by the hand. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Troubles are a part of living this life, and they come to Christian and non-Christian alike. No matter what we face, Christians have the assurance that Christ is with us. I’ve often wondered how people who reject God or walk far from Him are able to face a crisis. Jesus loves me, yes I know; He loves you too. That blessed hope will be oue guide through every trial we will ever face. From a job interview to walking through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us every step of the way.
Sometimes the problems we face are because our bodies wear out and…well, things just happen. On the other hand many of our troubles are of our own making. Possibly you can’t pay your bills because you have over-spent your budget. Have you been fired from a job because you’ve been habitually late, or continually make personal phone calls? Sometimes our health fails, but is that lung disease caused by years of smoking cigarettes? Maybe you have AIDs because you’ve made choices that contradict God’s laws. You see, many times we try to blame God for choices we make. The world is ruled by Satan, but Jesus has overcome the world. Surrender your life to Him and obey His word and you just might have less troubles. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19. Wickedness is of Satan; he is our enemy. Jesus has defeated Satan and when you walk with Jesus you don’t walk in the world.
It’s easy to question God when trouble or illness comes our way. We think that once we accept Christ as our Saviour, life will be smooth sailing. No more hurt, conflict, sickness, or trials. Well, wouldn’t that be nice. The fact is that our future Home with God will be perfect, but as we walk through this life and live in these mortal bodies we will suffer the same problems as those who are un-saved. The difference is that Christians have Jesus to lean on. We can look at the lives of the Apostles and see that persecution, imprisonment, and death all came against them. John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, Peter was crucified upside down, James (John’s brother) was killed with a sword, and so on. Their faith kept them strong in the face of trials. The Apostle Paul also faced many challenges. In his letter to the Corinthians he speaks of a “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan”. What this thorn was is a matter of much speculation, but Paul prayed three times for God to take it away. It wasn’t removed but Paul’s faith wasn’t diminished. God told him “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. We all want to be healthy and whole with no trials or temptations. When we learn to focus on what’s important (Christ, and Him crucified) we will realize that God’s grace is sufficient.
Paul learned a lot in life and we can learn from his letters. As he travelled from place to place proclaiming the Gospel he suffered many things. In addition to the “thorn in the flesh”, he was shipwrecked, snake bit, beaten, persecuted, and imprisoned. In spite of all he faced he was content. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12. What had he learned from all his trials? “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” Philippians 4:13. So can we. Our strength is also through Christ and He will strengthen us when faced with persecution, illness, temptation, or any other problem that comes along. It’s up to you whether you allow the problems to beat you or to allow Christ to be your strength.
There’s no easy way to learn to trust God in all things, it takes experience. When you’re faced with a problem, pray. Ask for strength and guidance. Trials can help our faith to increase if we allow them to. The trick is to trust Jesus in little things and when big things come along you will have learned to trust Him. Prayer is always where to start. Go to Him in faith knowing that He is willing to guide you in all things. When you pray, humbly present your request before Him but always submit to His will because His plan is always perfect even if we don’t always understand. Study His word for guidance. When facing a challenge, strength can be found in the Psalms. David had many challenges in his life, but even as a young man he knew to trust in the Lord. When he faced Goliath he had no fear because he knew God had helped him kill a lion and a bear, so why wouldn’t He help to slay a giant. When David’s infant son died he knew that one day, after his own death, he would see his son again because he trusted God in all things. Whenever David faced trials he went to the Lord. There are many beautiful and encouraging Psalms that have come from David’s trust in the Lord. David also praised God in the good times. That’s important for us to learn. Too often we only run to the Lord in our times of need and we forget to thank Him for everything. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Notice it says “in everything” not “for everything”. Thank Him in the good times because those mountain top experiences bring joy, but also thank Him in the valleys because that’s where we grow, where our faith is strengthened.
Does God give us problems and illness in order to make our faith strong? No. God created a perfect place for Adam and Eve to live, but Satan lied and convinced them to disobey God. He still lies to us today and listening to him causes problems. God’s law tells us not to steal, so if you choose to rob a bank and go to jail that isn’t God’s fault. God is specific about the sanctity of a one man one woman marriage, but most people follow Satan’s lies and disease follows. We are all touched by the corruption brought on by the god of this world, so don’t blame God for troubles. On the other hand, if you stand firm in God’s love and draw strength from Him in times of trial you will be an example to others around you. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. What is intended for evil can be turned around if you seek God’s guidance and strength. Then, when you see someone suffering what you went through you can tell them how you found strength in the Lord, share the Gospel, and possibly bring someone to a saving faith in Jesus.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14. All victory is found in Christ. Whether your problems be big or small, He cares. Pray, read His word, and honor Him always. The troubles of this life are short compared to eternity, and He promised Christians a mansion. Trust Him and let Him be your strength in times of trouble.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.