Trials and Troubles – Week 9 / February 25th

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the
fiery trial which is to try you, as though some
strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to
the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings,
that when His glory is revealed, you may also be
glad with exceeding joy.”

1Peter 4:12-13

Trials and troubles constitute unexpected and challenging events that impact upon our short-term and long-term futures.
For the Christian, in right standing with God, we may adjust this definition by writing:
Trials and troubles constitute unexpected and challenging events that impact positively upon our short-term and long-term futures.
Paul exhorted and comforted the saints in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch by saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter into the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) To put it another way, “Through many tribulations we enter into the rule and reign of Jesus over our lives.” The message is clear; trials and troubles are very much part of the Christian journey and experience.

1. The cycle of trials and troubles
Job wrote that, “…man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Sparks emanating from a fire always fly upwards and never downwards. The lesson is therefore clear; trials and trouble will be a vital part of the Christian’s journey; just as it was with Job. The breaking in of trials and troubles to our lives very often leaves us bewildered, desperate and even frightened because we sense that we have lost control of our lives and have therefore become vulnerable to uncertainty. We must however remember that God is always with us just as He was with Daniel’s three friends who were cast into the fiery furnace. The God we serve never leaves us!

2. The blessing of trials and troubles
James writes that we must “consider it all joy when we encounter trials.” (James 1:2) As with Job, we need to learn in our hearts the great truths of God’s love, sovereignty, character, care and watchfulness over us. These truths have to gravitate from our minds to our hearts and therefore become a real unshakable part of us. Trials, and more correctly, our responses to them, reveal to what degree this has happened. This is their blessing! If we become “unhinged” and full of panic and anxiety we reveal that we have not, as we should be, been grounded in the great truths of Who God is. Our lives must be settled on the bedrock of Who God is but sadly; there is so much “carnal debris” in our lives that Jesus, through trials, has to sweep this away and thereby anchor us more fully in Himself. This is a blessing and cause for joy!

3. The purpose of trials and troubles
While much could be said about trials and troubles we limit our “discussion” to that which Paul, James and Peter have to teach us about them.
Paul (Philippians 1:12-21) teaches us that troubles enable us to reach people who would otherwise never be reached for Christ. Paul’s godly behavior in a Roman Jail stood out amongst his fellow inmates and caught the attention of his jailers. In like manner, the unsaved are watching your life and particularly so when you are encountering troubles to see if you are just like them or different. If you are different they will conclude that indeed there is something real about becoming a Christ Follower. Paul also writes that when the believers saw how God was caring and providing for him in jail they were emboldened to preach His good news as well. Your attitude in the face of adversity is an encouragement to your fellow Christians. Finally, Paul concedes that trials and troubles have played a part in transforming his life into the image of Christ. This is so because in these times we seek Him more, read His word more and embrace Him more. All this amounts to godly change.

James (James 1:2-3) teaches us troubles and trials “prove us” and thereby equip us better for service in the Kingdom of God. Trouble is therefore self instructive in that we learn about the true nature of our spiritual maturity and strength as Peter did when he denied Christ three times. Peter was not as brave as he verbally asserted that he was and after his troubles at Jesus’ trial he certainly corrected his weaknesses.

Peter (1Peter 6-8) teaches us that trials and troubles enable us to more powerfully reflect the image of Jesus from our lives and characters. Just as gold is refined by fire and the “scum” removed from it, so it is, by the fires of trials and troubles, God removes the scum (impurities) from our lives. We will all be subjected to this process at some time in our spiritual journey and, though it is not pleasant, it produces the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in us. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
So, in the end, our response to trials and troubles should be that of repentance, surrender and patient endurance. The God we serve loves you, cares for you and will never fail you as you walk with Him through times of trials and troubles. Nothing can separate you from Him. (Romans 8:35-39)

Malcolm Hedding

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