Without question, all of us suffer trials in our life—some more than others. Perhaps we are going through a trial right now. In the face of trials, we may look upon them as a sign of God’s displeasure or correction, and this may well be the case. Unfortunately, trials may tend to breed a sense of doubt, bewilderment, depression, and even of anger and frustration. They can lay heavily on our minds, whether they come upon us suddenly as when an accident occurs, or whether they creep up on us gradually, as when a sickness takes hold and lingers, and we may wonder: “Have I sinned? Is that why I’m suffering?” It is always good to ask ourselves this question, but sometimes, individual sin may not be the reason for our trial.
For those of us called by God, the hardest trials are those which occur seemingly in spite of our faithfulness to God’s Word. But we should keep in mind, as David tells us: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them ALL” (Psalm 34:19). And Paul tells us: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
We ought to realize that in the absence of trials in our Christian life, the ultimate tragedy would not be our physical death, but to lose the potential to be given eternal life. Thus trials must come if we expect immortality and real power as kings, priests and judges in God’s Kingdom. Otherwise, without testing us now through trial as free moral agents, God could not entrust us as immortal beings with all the power that will accompany that reward. We might say that God has to see what we are made of before He will imbue us with such great power. The complicity of Satan, a spirit being, to sin continually is THE example of what God wants to avoid with those of us whom He has called and sanctified and who are yet to be changed into spirit beings, having successfully endured our trials.
Trials can lead to either spiritual growth or bitterness. The response of those who suffer determines the result. We as Christians are bound to experience trials in order for us to demonstrate our faith in God and His promises. Our faith needs to be tried in order for it to be strengthened. Trials should never be a reason to dispense with faith—faith that comes to us through Jesus Christ.
James 1:2-3 tells us: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” To count our trial for joy is sometimes easier said than done, but we all need to grow in patience, when a trial comes upon us.
The trials we suffer from time to time do tend to try our patience and our faith, and necessarily so. In a familiar verse Peter exhorts us: “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 [in effect] partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
How do we cope in the meantime? We will find encouragement when we accept a three-pronged solution to our trials, i.e. faith in God’s promises (compare Psalm 34); obedience toward His laws; and patience. They all go hand-in-hand.
Let us recall that verse in Hebrews 11:6 that tells us: “But without faith it is impossible to please [God].” If we do not please God, He will not be pleased with us. By surviving trials, be they mild or excruciating, with strength and determination and dignity, we are allowing God to build His righteous character in us, so that we become worthy of those blessings He holds out for those of us who endure to the end. As the end-time events rapidly manifest themselves, we all look forward to protection during the Great Tribulation yet to come upon this world. Let us pray fervently that we shall be counted worthy to escape THAT awful trial (compare Luke 21:36).