We all have them, and we all wish that they would go away -- forever. I'm talking about trials and tribulations.As the people of God, we must endure trials and tribulations. The world goes through their own as well. However, the purpose behind ours is unique. These detested things offer hidden blessings and provide lasting wisdom that will help us and others as we continue to travel the narrow road, on our way to the strait gate.
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:24Strive is a key word in this scripture because it hints at the fact that there is a struggle; something is opposing us.
Strive is a verb. It requires action on our part. It is defined as: "making great effort to achieve or attain something; to struggle or fight vigorously."
It is clear from our own experiences that in order to live a holy life, it is a fight. We must fight against our own desires and old mindsets. We must strive against the common practices of this world as we are in it, but not of it.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2Being a Christian is not a passive lifestyle. In order to maintain our place in Christ, it takes action on our part so we are able to withstand the temptations and snares of the devil.
So, how does this have anything to do with trials and tribulations being disguised blessings?
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-4We have to understand that being called by Christ into His kingdom requires some active pursuit on our behalf.
Personally, I can think of at least 6 reasons that trials and tribulations offer hidden blessings:
- It causes me to seek the Lord more fervently. My prayer life increases. As my prayer life increases I begin to see things differently and not be as anxious or fearful. The devil wants us to respond by accusing God and complaining, speaking negative words which can cause our defeat, or causing bitterness to take root in our hearts. If we are prayerful, we can hear from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, which will lead and guide us into having peace in spite of what is happening.
- I begin to search the scriptures for people who had similar trials, so that I can gain insight and find some words of encouragement. Job was tried and in the end received more than what He had before. Joseph was tried and also received a double portion. I also see examples where people did the wrong thing and learn how NOT to respond. Saul was tried but operated in pride and disobedience. The consequence was the presence of God leaving him, and ultimately losing the kingdom.
- I search my heart and actions to see if there is anything I said or did to open the door for the trial or tribulation. This is a great blessing because it uncovers areas in my life that may have gone unnoticed before. I begin to see things about myself that need to be aligned with God's Word.
- I become more compassionate towards others enduring testing. Far too often as Christians we venture into self-righteousness and delude ourselves into thinking we have conquered our demons -- we have it all together. This is a lie. Trials and tribulations allow me to see flaws in myself and be understanding towards others. It teaches me to see the grace of God even more.
- I tame my tongue. Something about trials and tribulations causes me to be more watchful over my words. Our tongues are the most powerful tools in our bodies. If we learn to tame them, we can actually change the whole course of our lives, the outcome of our trials, and confessions we say about ourselves and others. "Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." James 3:5-6
- I am able to see how God's Word is true and that everything truly does work together for my good. I can see His hand in things and my confidence and trust in Him grows because He does things I am unable to do. He proves Himself to be exactly what His Word says. My faith increases!
In all these things that trials and tribulations produces, I am becoming more and more like Christ.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18As I become more like Christ, I am able to draw more people to Him. I am also more skilled in His Word and learning how he wants me to live, instead of how I have been living.
Things you might want to consider as you go through trials and tribulations:
- If you have never been sick, how do you know God is a healer? Jehovah Rapha
- If you have never been in need of something or in lack, how do you know God is a provider? Jehovah Jireh
- If you have never been in turmoil and cried out for peace, how do you know that God is Jehovah Shalom? The Lord our Peace
- If you never ventured off the right path and needed God to bring you back, how do you know that the Lord is your Shepherd? Jehovah Rohi
Faith that is tested is sure. We can say we believe in God all day. We post quotes on Facebook and Twitter, and encourage others. But how we respond in trials and tribulations proves if we believe what we say we believe.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not die for you to go to church and be involved in ministry. He died and rose again to be in a relationship with us.
When we are in relationship, we are privy to things that others are not. We know things that others do not. The Bible tells us to draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto us.
I am living proof that His Word is the truth.
About 6 years ago I was going through a divorce and my financial situation changed almost overnight. So one day while driving back from Colorado to Texas I had to try God and trust His word. I had to believe that He would supply my needs like never before.
My car had half a tank of gas and I had $10 in cash. I rarely carried cash because I used my cards from accounts and credit cards. As God is my witness, I was not able to transfer money from my money market account as I had done several times before. I usually put a percentage of what I earned in that account to keep me from overspending.
In my spirit I heard a voice say to lay my hand on my car and tell it to go to San Antonio.
This was ludicrous -- made no sense. I had driven that route several times and from Lubbock, Texas it was about 400 miles. I usually filled up at least 3 more times.
The voice said it again and I was desperate. I cried. But I finally obeyed. Little did I know that Jehovah Jireh was beginning to reveal His hand in my life. It was the beginning of our relationship.
Sure, I went to church but I was not interested in really getting to know Christ because it was too restrictive and I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Just being honest.
Anyways, I drove my car 400 miles on less than a full tank of gas. I looked at that gas tank the whole way and doubted that God had said what He said. But as God lives, I tell you I rode into San Antonio.
When I got there, I burst into tears at God's faithfulness to me. I had not been faithful to Him in anyway. I trusted in my job, my education, my husband, and anything else I could see.
Yes, I believed in God, but I didn't trust Him. We can't trust who we don't know. I am grateful today that things in my life caused me to learn who this God was.
As soon as I got to San Antonio, I tried again to transfer the money, and it worked. Unbelievable. I cannot make this stuff up.
If you are going through trials, there is a purpose. And Romans 8:28 says:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
You know whether you've been called in your heart.God has done many more miracles in my life that I will share as the Spirit leads. But be encouraged that God is always with His children, even when we feel alone. He speaks to us through His Word, so do not fail to study.
He is also very jealous and anything we put ahead of Him, we are likely to lose. He made us with a purpose in mind, and idolatry is not it.
You will overcome, and He will restore you if you hold on, have faith, and continue in His Word.