Trials always change our relationship with God. Either they drive us to Him, or they drive us away from Him. The extent of our fear of Him and our awareness of His love for us determine in which direction we will move.
[Paul’s] thrice-repeated prayer for the removal of the ailment was answered, not by his deliverance from it, but by his receiving the necessary grace to bear it – not simply to live with it but to be thankful for it. If his ministry was so effective despite this physical weakness, then the transcendent power was manifestly God’s, not his own. Infirmities like this were welcomed, together with the other hardships…if they were the condition on which the power of the risen Christ operated through him. They constantly reminded him not so much of his own inadequacy as of the total adequacy of Christ, in whom, when he was personally most weak, he knew himself to be most strong.
In regard of God, patience is a submission to His sovereignty. To endure a trial, simply because we cannot avoid or resist it, is not Christian patience. But to humbly submit because it is the will of God to inflict the trial, to be silent because the sovereignty of God orders it – is true godly patience.
Embracing trials doesn’t mean that we are to pretend that they are not trials. It simply means that we are not to let our reactions to them be determined by how they first feel to us.
For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its purpose, calling forth simple faith and implicit obedience.
Don’t bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens – justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism – take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into testimony. Don’t explain evil, exploit evil; make it serve you. Just as the Lotus flower reaches down and takes up the mud and mire into the purposes of its life and produces the lotus flower out of them, so you are to take whatever happens and make something out of it.
If I had not felt certain that every trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.
The only way out of a trial is through it. The Lord promises no bypasses, only that He will always see His people through the trials without their suffering spiritual harm.
We may profitably meditate, with God’s blessing, although we are spiritually weak. The weaker we are, the more meditation we need to strengthen our inner man. Meditation on God’s Word has given me the help and strength to pass peacefully through deep trials.
The Autobiography of George Muller, 1984, p. 140. All quotations taken from books published by Whitaker House are used with permission of the publisher. Whitaker House books are available at Christian bookstores everywhere. Get this book!
The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.
In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.
Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his need.
The key to trials is to get out of them all that God intends for us (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
Endurance is the ability to weather a trial without resorting to sinful means of deliverance.
True holiness does not make a Christian evade difficulties, but face and overcome them. Christ would have His people show that His grace is not a mere hothouse plant, which can only thrive under shelter, but a strong, hardy thing which can flourish in every relation of life.
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is simply to try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of divine grace.
His purpose for the lives of His children is Christlikeness. Though we often want comfort and pleasure and prosperity and healing, the Lord knows these are not always the means that will produce in us the holiness He desires. Sometimes God shows His love by removing the trial. Often He shows His love by permitting the trial to remain, knowing just the right pressure in our lives that will produce in us Christlikeness – both His greatest desire and our greatest good.
Yes, we are promised trouble in the world. Yes, we are not always guaranteed deliverance from our enemies. But we are promised sufficient grace to sustain our soul during all afflictions. And we have the Holy Spirit to give us joy and peace and wisdom and hope during all our afflictions. We have His word that regardless of what happens to us that everything will ultimately turn out for our greatest good. We know our trials are in His hands – hands that are good, loving, wise and sovereign. And when our assigned time on this earth is done we have promises far clearer than anything King David even experienced. We have the hope of being with Him in Paradise for all of eternity.
Trials can devastate us because we are often looking as to how they are affecting our lives. Yet when we can die to self and desire God’s glory as a result of them, we are given an entirely different outlook. We can actually rejoice if we know God’s name, God’s glory is being magnified as witnessed through our response to the trial. Specifically how? When others see our Christlike attitude – gratitude verses complaining, kindness verses anger, faith verses anxiety, contentment verses greed and joy verses bitterness – God is glorified. It means very little when godly character and spiritual fruit only appear when things are going well in our lives.
Are you running to God during your trials? If not, you are short-cutting the process. You see, when most people, even most Christians have problems, they immediately run to all the sources they have available to bring relief. Some are good, others are bad. The problem is none of them are ultimately effective. We expect people to be our personal Messiahs and they can’t. We use entertainment to numb our troubles and the trouble, though camouflaged, is still there. We abuse substances to turn off the pain and it doesn’t. We try food and sex to fight the pain with pleasure and it’s ineffective. These things bring a shallow refuge and temporary reprieve in the little matters, but in the long haul they are proven unsuccessful. That is why God in His love for us wants us to run to Him.
Trials lead to weakness which leads to humility with leads to greater dependence on God which leads to strength (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
God sanctifies us though our trials. It’s been said, the same boiling water will soften a potato, but harden an egg. Trials don’t naturally shape our hearts, but our response to them will make us either bitter or better. What is the Gospel-centered response to trials? To live the crucified life with our Savior. Growing in humility. Becoming less and He becomes greater in us. It’s making a name for Jesus and not ourselves. It’s finding greater identity with Him. In Philippians 3:10 Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
We must trust the sovereignty of God in all our unfavorable circumstances believing that He has a good plan for us. But we need to do this through a Christ-centered, Gospel-focused perspective knowing that the good that our Lord desires – growing in Christlikeness and making Him known.
When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.
You may readily judge whether you are a child of God or a hypocrite by seeing in what direction your soul turns in seasons of severe trial. The hypocrite flies to the world and finds a sort of comfort there. But the child of God runs to his Father and expects consolation only from the Lord’s hand.
Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.
To do anything less than commit ourselves completely to our Lord in simple trust during the troubling times in our lives is to insult His wisdom. To resist Him, question Him, doubt Him, or criticize what He allows in our lives is to deny that He is the only wise God, and claim that we are wiser than He.
[Our] heavenly Father is infinitely big, wise, and capable. As God gets bigger and bigger in your mind and heart, your trial will get smaller and smaller.
There are three things to remember concerning trials:
1. Trials are a common experience of all of us. No one is immune. Trials are a part of living.
2. Trials are transitory. C.B. Williams translates 1 Peter 1:6 this way: “In such a hope keep on rejoicing, although for a little while you must be sorrow-stricken with various trials.” Trials, though difficult, are for a “little while.”
3. Trials are lessons that shouldn’t be wasted. Though not enjoyable or necessarily good in themselves, trials constitute a divine work for our ultimate good. Jesus never promised an easy journey, but He did promise a safe landing.
Amid trials hard, temptations strong, and troubles constant, true faith is persevering faith.
God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our life through; God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain. But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way; grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.