Jun 9, 2021, 2:33 PM
Tests, trials and troubles are a common phenomenon with human beings. They have become a part of the scheme of things – part and parcel of our earthly experience. Job, a biblical character, who was an upright man, was himself severely tested. During this phase of his life he declared: “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1) Tests, trials and troubles will come from any direction and at every stage of our existence, without notice. Sometimes when we least expect them.
The nature of a test or trial brings with it its fair share of troubles. We cannot make a clear distinction between the three. Whatever way we deal with either of them will determine the outcome. Some people take it very badly and come out of it all ‘in tatters,’ completely shipwrecked; not having known where to turn or what to do under the circumstances; whilst others weather the storm despite the odds and derive great benefit from it.
As Christians, we are aware that tests, trials and troubles abound in this world and can come from every source and particularly from our common enemy - Satan. Our Lord Jesus in talking to his disciples assured them in these terms. “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)
Our tests and trials can also come from God. When this happens, it is because He has a definite purpose in mind – to strengthen us and increase our faith. Job concluded: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) The more we feel God’s hand in this, the more we should be comforted and confident that after every storm there is a calm. Paul sums it all up thus: “For our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) The tests, trials and troubles that we face are temporary but they are meant to prepare us for greater challenges and blessings ahead.
For gold to be pure, it has to be rid of all its impurities. For us to come out as pure gold we also have to go through some heat, through God’s refinery in order to be cleansed of all the rubbish and filth that this world has thrust upon us. When the tests and trials come, we should be in that frame of mind which will position us for victory. The psalmist said “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50) “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.” (Psalm 119:143)
Do we see the hand of the Lord in our daily afflictions? How well are we prepared to handle it? “I consider that my present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) trumpeted Paul.
Troubles, difficulties, tribulations and sufferings are a springboard to a better knowledge of ourselves. They reveal to us our shortcomings and our inadequacies so that we may make amends and become more Christ-like. These phases which have become an integral part of life, offer the requisite training one should receive to be a worthy disciple and servant of God. “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honour and comfort me once again.” (Psalm 71:20) said the Psalmist.
The difficulties that Jacob went through moulded him and helped to transform him from his selfish motives -- the thought of always putting himself first. Job’s trial succeeded in humbling him by diminishing his overconfidence in himself rather than in God. Peter’s fall helped to break his pride and his self-esteem that had led him to look for strength and power outside of Christ.
“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.” (Romans 5:3) For “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8)
As we go through these difficult periods in our lives, we should not give up hope. God is working a good thing in us. It is intended for our own good. Difficulties come our way to enable us discover what God has in store for us; he wants to build up our faith in him. This must be a call to pray, for greater dependence. He desires to bolster our patience and courage.
When Naomi was being tried, she became bitter. On her return from living abroad, she lamented her status vis-à-vis God. When family and friends rejoiced at her return, she burst out: “Do not call me Naomi, (sweet) call me Mara, (bitter) because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” (Ruth 1:20) Job did not have a clue what went wrong with his prosperous life all of a sudden. He exclaimed at the height of his troubles: “All was well with me, but He shattered me; He seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me His target.” (Job 16:12) You no doubt must have felt that way too some time in your life, giving up on God because of a ‘momentary affliction.’
When Paul and Silas were in prison, wrongly accused for stirring up trouble “throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:20) they sang all night in jail until the earth shook. They did not put any emphasis on their plight. They believed in the God that they served. The following morning they were released. The light at the end of the tunnel was brought about by praise in spite of their circumstances. Whether you are in trouble or you are facing a trial, look to Jesus, not on your circumstances. He is the solution.