Every one of us faces trials and tribulations. That is part of life and part of being a Christian. The trials may be physical, such as financial problems or health issues. They may be relationship trials in dealing with difficult people. They may be spiritual trials such as the consequences of sin or the falling away of those you love or persecution because of your faith in Jesus. There are all sorts of trials that we might face. There is no sense in comparing my trials to your trials. I can’t trade mine for yours nor can you trade yours for mine. The point is not if you have trials and tribulations but how do you respond to them.
One way you can respond to trials is to give up, fall away or stumble. In explaining the parable of the sower, Jesus described it this way in Matthew 13:20-21 “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Perhaps you have known of people who have quit attending church or even given up their faith because of tribulation or trials. Late in his life, the apostle Paul was imprisoned for the cause of Christ. He tells us that Demas had given up. 2 Timothy 4:9-10a “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.” Demas undoubtedly faced trials while He was with the apostle Paul; apparently he decided that he would seek a more comfortable life with fewer trials. But if you give up, you lose everything. You have no hope of eternal life; everything is lost. One time Jesus gave some difficult teaching. John 6:66-68 “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” There is no other way but Jesus; He has the words of eternal life!
A second way of responding to trials is to grumble and complain. The children of Israel under Moses suffered many hardships in the wilderness. Numbers 21:4b-5 “And the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’” God was very angry with the Israelites for grumbling and complaining so He sent fiery serpents among the people and many of the people died. Speaking about the Israelites in the wilderness in 1 Corinthians 10:6,10-12 “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Learn from the bad example of the Israelites and do not complain about your trials.
The better way to respond to trials is to be “patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12). James 5:7-11 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Jesus is our supreme example of patience in suffering and trial. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despised the same of the cross, and is now at the right hand of the throne of God.
Trials test your faith. How strong is your faith? Do you really believe that God loves you even though you have trials? Do you believe that He will never leave you or forsake you? Being patient in trials demonstrates your faith that God is in control and He is allowing your trials to come upon you for a purpose. You need to trust Him. 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.” God is working in each of our lives to build within us the character and the fruit of the Holy Spirit that He wants us to have. Being patient in trials demonstrates our faith in God.
We are encouraged in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “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, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Eternal life with Jesus and God the Father is worth going through the temporary trials you suffer here. I encourage you to be patient in your tribulations and trials without complaining.