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Tests and Trials

May 5, 2010, 1:50 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."  (James 1:12)

Whether they are of your own making or seem to appear from nowhere without the slightest warning, or worst still whether it is someone who decides to put you through hell (on earth), trials will come your way and sometimes they can literally knock you off our feet. What should be your attitude when they knock on your door?  Would you faint? Would you give up on life, and say to hell with it or would you carry the load on your shoulders - suffering and smiling? Let us take a look at how some biblical characters braved through tests and trials for answers.

Tests and trials have become a common phenomenon in our day. No matter how much you try to dodge, they'll end up on your door step - though unwelcome. Our Lord Jesus warned us about them when He said; "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Actually, what we must understand here is that no one is totally free from trouble. It comes in diverse forms. What really matters is how we receive them.  In the Old Testament, Joseph the son of Jacob, did not have to look very far before trouble stared him in the face. His trials did not come from people with whom he was at loggerheads, nor was it his enemies who made life unbearable for him. Opposition came from within his own kith and kin. When his brothers did not take kindly to his boasts, they sought ways of getting rid of him.  Sound familiar?

"Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him all the more. He said to them, 'Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.'  (Genesis 37:5) That was what sparked it all - the beginning of his trials. His elder brothers wanted to be certain about what he meant and asked; "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" (Genesis 37:8) Could you be serious? But Joseph went on and on. "Listen he said; 'I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' " (Genesis 37:9) The matter reached the ears of his parents and they wondered. "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" (Genesis 37:10)

Under normal circumstances Joseph’s family should have been happy for him and his dream. Unfortunately, jealousy blinded his brothers and pushed them to scheme for his downfall. In their anger they would have killed him. But for the wise counsel of one of them, they ended selling him into slavery - all because of what he said and the dream he shared. His only fault was that he blew his trumpet a bit too loud. You see dear reader, people will judge your noble intentions and declarations or some rather seemingly harmless utterances. Your ambitions, desires and wishes could get you into deep trouble all because you shared them with a relative or friend. Let's look at it this way, if Joseph was not safe in his own household where else could he have found safety?

It would appear that Joseph's tests and trials were of his own making. By predicting he was going to lord it over his brothers he had earned their displeasure. They did not like it one bit. Nevertheless, he went on to fulfil his dream and none of the impediments put in his way could hinder the process. "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4)

Joseph's dream was a divine revelation of his future as the account revealed. However no single event along the way pointed to its realisation or accomplishment. Even though God says in His Word that He will never leave us nor forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6) Joseph's circumstances were the opposite of what should have happened if his dream was to mature. From slavery he had to languish in prison under false accusation making his dream all the more improbable. Yet it was part of God's plan that it should happen that way. When it is least probable for us that is when it becomes possible for God.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and exiled for the most part of his life and at the height of his youth for opposing apartheid and for being politically active. By confining him to Robben Island the authorities thought they had nailed him for good. He later walked out of prison triumphant - to bear the mantle of the first African President of South Africa and to lead his people into independence. It is not always that we see God's hand in the processes in our lives but afflictions come to better prepare us for the task ahead.

So do not despair, do not worry and do not fret when trials come your way or seem to overwhelm you. You are in the moulding and refining process for better things to come.