We all have trials in our lives; no one can live without them. They may come as persecutions or health problems or problems with other people or losses that we experience or financial problems or work problems. The list can go on and on. So the question is not do we have trials and tribulations, but how do we react when they come into our lives? Some people get angry. Maybe they get angry with themselves for messing up. Maybe they get angry with others and perhaps respond with vengeance. Maybe they react by saying or doing things they should not say or do. Maybe they get depressed. Maybe they are filled with worry and anxiety. Many say “why me?” and feel sorry for themselves. Maybe they get so caught up in their trials that they become unfruitful for God. Maybe they blame God and seek another path in life. But few of us are happy for our trials and tribulations. They are painful and seemingly undesirable. Why should we want to go through them? Why should we be joyful in trials? Trials test our faith. James 1:2-4 “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.” A similar scripture is given in Romans 5:3-5 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
We can rejoice in trials when we pass the test and remain faithful. We can also realize that God is working in us to develop the characteristics that He wants us to have. Without trials, we stay where we are and do not grow. Trials have the potential to change us into what He wants us to be. He wants us to be loving, patient, compassionate, gentle, unselfish, self-controlled, humble, etcetera – many characteristics that we don’t usually start off with. We can be joyful that God loves us and is making us into the image of His son (Romans 8:29); He wants us to be like Jesus. James 1:3 states that trials produce patience, meaning cheerful endurance. Giving up or rebelling against the trial is the wrong reaction. Accepting the trial and enduring it and learning from it is the proper response. Then the scripture states that patience causes us to be “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” When the Holy Spirit works in our lives, we develop the characteristics that He desires. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” These characteristics do not develop overnight but are formed within us by the Spirit through trials and tribulations. If we let God, He will use trials to perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us. 1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
God wants us to trust in Him and depend upon Him rather than depend upon on our strength. The apostle Paul experienced a “thorn in the flesh”. He pleaded with the Lord three times to have it taken away. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The apostle took pleasure in his weakness and tribulations because then he depended upon the strength of God rather than his own strength and abilities. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God wants our trust and dependence to be in Him and Jesus Christ and not in ourselves.
The proper attitude is described in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” When we put things in proper perspective, our afflictions are light and momentary. When we go to be with Jesus, it will be eternal and glorious. Since we have thoughts and actions that need to change; we can see ourselves being purified like the Levites. Malachi 3:2-3 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” God wants us to be like Himself and His son, Jesus Christ.
It comes down to a matter of faith. Do we believe that God is in control or not? Do we believe that He allows the trials and tribulations to come into our lives? Do we accept His dealings with us as good and therefore refrain from disputing or resisting? Do all things work together for our good? This is what we are told in 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.”
I must confess that I am still learning this lesson. There are times in my life when I get upset or react improperly to trials and tribulations. Together, let us learn this lesson and encourage each other. It requires strong faith that God is using our trials to develop our trust in Him and to make us more like Him. Let us keep our faith and rejoice that we can trust Him through our trials.