WHY Does a Christian Have TRIALS?

storms of Life

Few really know how to cope with the trials of a Christian life. Very few, it seems, have learned what attitude they should have toward their trials!


Trials—everybody has them! Unconverted people and converted people alike have trials, troubles and problems! Financial problems, family problems, frustrations and complexes plague people of every walk of life.

Why?

Do you understand why you have trials? Do you know what you should do about them? Do you know why God permits them to occur in your personal life?
Very few, in this age of unbelief, really know the answers to these questions. But your Bible reveals the answer —plainly, simply, so a child could understand!

What Usually Happens


First, notice what usually happens when trials come into the lives of people. You have probably experienced this yourself, in the past. Notice the example of the Israelites during the days of Moses.

Almighty God intervened and performed gigantic miracles to deliver His people from bondage in Egypt. He opened a path through the Red Sea, and then led them into the wilderness of Sinai. At this time—after Israel had seen God's great power—trials began to come.

First, a water shortage developed. Then, the people grew tired of living on manna—and craved flesh to eat. These things developed into fullblown trials! The people began to lose faith in God—they accused Him of not loving them, not being concerned for them,  and  they began  to  accuse Him of not having the power to provide for their needs!

Gripe, gripe, gripe—grumble, groan and complain! "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!" the people raved. "Would God we had died in this wilderness!" they bitterly lamented.

Complaining led to further mischief, and soon they were plotting to REBEL against Moses and return to Egypt! "Let us make us a captain, and let us return into Egypt," they whispered among themselves.

Obviously, the Israelites did not know how to deal with their trials and problems! Their trials led them away from God! As a result, they tempted God, refused to believe His promises— and died in the wilderness! (Num. 14:11, 22-23.)

Isn't this the usual carnal-minded reaction, when trials occur? Don't trials usually cause people to begin to moan and groan—begin to feel self-pity—and soon begin accusing God, bitterly assailing His servants, and even ridiculing His Word and His promises?

The next step after complaining is false accusation—and then comes open REBELLION!

You and YOUR Trials


What about the trials in your life?

How do you react to trials, tests and troubles? Do they drive you into a bitter attitude? Do they make you resentful or angry? Are you following the same path the Israelites plunged down—the path of complaining, grumbling, resentment and final rebellion?

Or, have you, personally, learned why God permits trials to come into your life? Do you have the right attitude toward them?

Too often we fail to remember that the experiences and examples given in the Old Testament were written for our benefit! In I Corinthians 10 we read, "Now all these things happened unto them [the ancient Israelites] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (Verse 11). Paul wrote the Romans, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).

Notice again, then, the example of the Israelites. What was their basic mistake ?

Simply this: Regardless of the miracles God had performed in their behalf, they lost faith in God and disobeyed His commandments! Lack of faith and disobedience go hand-in-hand. They hardened their hearts against God (Heb. 3:8). They could not enter the promised land because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19).
They heard the Word of God. But "the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in  them  that  heard  it"   (Heb.   4:2).

Can we see the lesson?


The Israelites apparently thought, since God was supposed to be with them, they would have an easy time leaving Egypt. They thought the journey through the wilderness would be comfortable, pleasurable. Therefore, when  trials  struck,  they were  completely caught off guard. They were shocked — overwhelmed — surprised beyond belief!

"If God is with us," they wondered, "how could He let us go without water?" "If God is love," they queried, "then why does He give us this old manna all the time?" They could not understand why God let them have trials and troubles. That was not what they wanted. They wanted the blessings God promised, but not the trials God   permitted   them   to   experience!

How does this apply to you ?

Your Personal TRIALS


Too few realize the direct parallel between the example of the ancient Israelites and true Christians, today. It is inescapable!

True Christians are those who have been delivered—not from physical bondage—but from spiritual slavery. We have been delivered from bondage to sin!
The Israelites' going through the waters of the Red Sea was a type of baptism (I Cor. 10:1). The Christian baptism, however, is a spiritual matter. Through baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit, we are set apart as God's people. We become His spiritual nation (I Pet. 2:9-10). We are purchased with the shed blood of Jesus Christ! (I Cor. 6:20; 7:23.) We become His!

And, like ancient Israel, God has given us certain wonderful, glorious promises! Like them, however, there are conditions involved to receiving these spiritual promises—the twin conditions   of   faith   and   obedience!

God, to see if we really believe Him—if we really have faith in His Word and His promises—puts us through trials and tests. The questions in God's mind are: Will we remain faithful? Do we really believe Him? And, are we willing to obey Him, regardless of circumstances?

Therefore, just as in the case of the ancient Israelites, God puts true Christians "under the gun"—under the whiplash of trials and tests. These tests reveal the true character, the true "colors" of a person. Is he "for real"? Or is he just "making believe" he is a Christian ?

Reaction to trials reveals the answer.

Consider this fact, the next time you are undergoing a severe test of faith!

What Is Your Trial?


In what area of your life has God been putting you to the test? What is your trial? Do you feel you've just about  reached  the   "breaking  point"?

Are you about ready to say, "All right. Up to this point, it was okay— but that did it! Now I've had it! That's enough for me!" Are you about ready to cry, "Enough!" and give up— throw God's Word out the window— and reject His promises?

Have you just about "had it"?

It is far too easy, when trials come, to take our eyes off Christ and stare at the trial itself. Just like Peter. When he attempted to walk on the water, he took his eyes off Christ and stared at the howling winds and raging seas. Fear seized him! Faith vanished, and he began to sink into the swirling waters.

But, unlike the Israelites of old, Peter knew what to do when trouble came. He cried out to Christ, "Lord, save me!" (Mat. 14:28-30.) Jesus reached out and caught him and delivered him.

Sometimes, however, God does not deliver us right away. Sometimes He tries our faith—our willingness to rely upon Him—by allowing the trial to remain for some time.

In certain cases, God might allow the trial to remain—until death!

Even in such a case, are you willing to trust God, rely upon Him, and in simple faith trust Him to rescue you, deliver you, protect you, heal you, restore you, and provide His promised blessing?

Notice a few examples—a few trials —experienced by some of God's people. Perhaps one of these examples applies directly to you!

One family lost their little daughter in an automobile accident. In another case, the little son died while the mother was away, attending God's Festival.

Sorrow and grief are natural. Our hearts go out to those who lose a loved one in death. But should even a trial like this cause us to lose faith in God and forsake His Word? Or should such a trial actually cause us to draw closer to God and learn to depend on Him more completely?

There are cases of illness, where God for some reason known to Him alone delays healing. Sometimes the illness— or the particular affliction—lasts for years! Yet, plainly according to God's Word, He promises to heal those who put their trust in Him. He does not promise to heal immediately, when we call upon Him, however. The time and the way God keeps in His own hands.

If you are sick, or afflicted in some way—are you willing to trust God regardless of how long He puts the trial of faith upon you? Are you willing to believe His promises to the end—even though the answer may not come for years, or even until the resurrection ?

Are you, therefore, willing to endure in believing faith?

Perhaps your trouble is financial. Since tithing, you have for some reason sunk deeper in debt. Do you blame God? Do you call Him a liar since He promised to bless the faithful tithe-payer? (Mai. 3:8-10.) How LONG will you trust God? How long will you endure in faith, striving to do your best to use your income wisely, prudently, and pay off your backlog of debts? Are you willing to be patient with God, and wait until He sees fit to bless you?

Remember, God does promise to bless the faithful tithepayer. But you must believe! And you must continue to obey His laws!

One more example—what about the trial of those who do not have mates— those who are separated and living alone because of a divorce and remarriage situation? In some cases, God may intervene to reunite a particular couple, even though they have been separated for years. Such a couple should be deeply thankful for God's blessing!

But what if He doesn't? What if a person cannot be reconciled with his or her mate for the rest of this life? Should this particular trial cause you
to lose faith in God, call Him a harsh monster, and bitterly rebel against His Truth?

Some, faced with this problem, have rebelled. Some count a temporary physical relationship as more important than entering the Kingdom of God as His   very  own   SON   for   all   eternity!

How would you decide? What would you do?

The Key—Attitude


What is YOUR biggest trial? Stop and think about it for a moment. What has your attitude been toward it— about it? Has it really tested your faith—your perseverance ?

Is your trial teaching you to trust in God and rely on Him—all the way? Is it building faith? Is it teaching you patience?

Or does doubt begin to creep in, does discouragement sneak in, do self-pity and remorse take over? Do bitterness, hostility and hate replace the love and joy of God's Holy Spirit?

Remember, whatever your trial, God KNOWS it. He knows all about it. And He is deeply concerned for you, whoever you are! If He wanted, He could lift the trial off your back in an instant—the very fact that He doesn't do this shows plainly that He sees the trial is good for you—that you need it, in order to develop the character of Christ!

God knows your problem. It is not hid from His eyes! He wants you to commit it to Him and trust Him with it. He wants you to learn to rely on Him, in patient, living faith! At the same time, He wants you to continue growing spiritually, doing your part in overcoming yourself, yielding to Him, and obeying His commandments.

In due time, He will deliver you! That is His Word—His promise —and it cannot be broken (John 10:35; Tit. 1:2). But you must trust in Him—patiently, perseveringly, with thankful joy, with gratitude and humility!

Remember the Israelites of old! Don't follow them in sour, disgruntled rebellion!

WHY You Have Trials


There is a reason for every trial! God is not dead. He is very much alive, and very much concerned for you! Trials do not mean God has lost interest in you. Don't worry—you have not been "lost in the shuffle." God knows every hair on your head (Luke 21:18).   He   knows   all   about   you!

But why, then, do you have trials? Basically, trials come for one reason: You are not YET perfect! If you were already perfect, you would need no trials. But since you still have a ways to go, before attaining perfection, God gives you trials to help you along!

Trials, troubles are usually due to coming short of the mark—that is, sin. We usually suffer as a result of sin somehow creeping into our life, deceiving us, and causing us to make unwise decisions. Sin brings trouble, trials—and eventually, if not repented of, death!

Therefore, when we stumble into sin, God punishes us to wake us up and bring us to repentance. When we disobey God, we reap the curses mentioned in Leviticus 26! When we repent, God's blessings are poured out upon us!

But, that is not the whole story. Human nature itself is greatly responsible for many of our trials. It is full of deceit and wickedness—vanity and hostility (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7). It is full of self!

Therefore, to help us overcome the downward pulls of human nature, and get rid of self, God gives us trials. He chastens and punishes and corrects us
(Heb. 12:6). God's chastening is proof of His great love for us! But often the chastening takes the form of a trial.

Why, then, do we have trials?

Because we need them! They teach us important lessons of faith, humility, reverence and worship for God! They show us how incapable we are, of ourselves, of working out our problems! They refine and purge, purify and strengthen our character! They help us change from being carnal and inwardly centered to spiritual and outgoing in our concern!

They change our character! The selfish dross is purged away! The spiritual nature of Christ is implanted! In this way we grow to "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph.  4:13).

Notice what God told the Israelites, our forefathers: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments,  or   no"   (Deut.   8:2).

That is the very reason God gives you trials! What has God learned— about you?

Rejoice in Trials!


How does God say you should "take" your trials?

James wrote, "My brethren, count it all JOY when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4). Do you count trials as all JOY? Why not?
Notice what Peter said: "Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding JOY" (I Pet. 4:12-13).

How   contrary   to   human   nature!

Peter wrote also, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious   than   of   gold   that   perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:7).

How precious are the trials of a Christian! How necessary—how vital to spiritual growth!

How thankful we should be, for each one of them! You should stop and thank God for your trials! Give Him praise for being so concerned about you!

But—HOW?


But wait a minute! Trials hurt, don't they? They bring misery, suffering, heartache and heaviness. How, then, can we ever learn to really rejoice in them?
Of course God does not expect us to consider the actual trial—the pain or sorrow—as joyful. That is not the point! Although the trial itself may bring suffering, we need to realize that the result—the fruit—of the trial is what should cause us to rejoice and be thankful!

Trials themselves, while we endure them, can cause heaviness and sorrow (I Pet. 1:6). The Apostle Paul wrote the Hebrews, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous"   (Heb.  12:11). How true!

But Paul explained, "Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Verse 11, last part). Notice!—"afterward"! When the trial is over, good fruit is borne—the fruit of patience, faith, humility, and righteousness.

When we consider the wonderful reason why God, in His supreme love, gives us trials, we truly should be thankful and rejoice! Rather than mope around shrouded in a cloud of intense gloom, we should rejoice! "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees," the Apostle Paul exhorts. Don't be depressed, disillusioned or discouraged. Lift up your head, and praise God for His   everlasting   concern   and   mercy!

PRAISE GOD for giving you a character-building trial!

This is the attitude you should have! Those who gripe and grumble in their trials are missing this vital lesson of character development! They are missing out on the real lessons their trials should teach them.

Remember: through your trials, you are becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in character, in nature, in compassion and love! It is through suffering ourselves that we learn to have compassion on others who suffer! We can sympathize with others who have trials, because we ourselves have had them! We know what they are like! We have been through them, ourselves !

Expect Trials!


The next time you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself because of your trials, stop and consider the example of Jesus Christ, "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider HIM that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds"   (Heb.  12:2-3).

How many more trials did Christ have than you? How much more suffering did He go through? He bore the griefs of all people on His shoulders. Rejected, despised, spit upon, beaten and bloodied, mocked and ridiculed, and finally, after all that, nailed to a stake and crucified!

Have you ever gone through trials approaching those of Christ?

Consider what He went through, for you—and be thankful!

Yes, be thankful for your trials! Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote, "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Remember, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12). Remember, as David wrote, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Ps. 34:19).

Learn to expect trials. Do not be surprised when they come. Realize how vital they are to your spiritual growth. Thank God for them—rejoice in them —and commit them into God's hands, trusting Him for deliverance from them, according to His mercy and compassion!

by William F. Dankenbring Good News September 1965

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