Surviving Your Trial

There is the well-known quip that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Don’t believe it!  For a Christian there is a third inescapable thing—trials. Therefore, it only makes sense to study and understand how to survive trials.

Every Christian’s trials are unique because we all are unique; but there are ways of coping with any trial that help us learn and grow from the experience. Below is a brief list of scriptural teachings that are of value when going through a trial.

1.  Consider:  You have come out of this world and are struggling to understand and live God’s ways. Your past sins are forgiven; but does that mean there is nothing more for you to do?  Of course not.  In the Old Testament the word “test” or “prove” is used in different ways. One of its meanings is to try you with the expectation of strengthening and educating you so that you can be approved.  For example, if you are in the process of being prepared for great responsibility, would you not expect to be educated for the position and have your abilities tested before being put into office? So, knowing you are being prepared for responsibility in the Kingdom, don’t be shocked and overwhelmed (Psalms 104:13) when trials come:

I Peter 4:12-13: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Summary: Know that trials will come, and know their purpose.

2.  I have never known a trial that I enjoyed. The Apostle Paul went through many fiery trials, and you can tell by his writings that he did not enjoy the process. He was as human as you and I. He wrote in Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”   KJV

The old English style of writing sounds like he is saying, Don’t Compare; but he actually is saying DO COMPARE.  In like manner we can ask:  Are the opportunities in a world that is wasting away comparable to the opportunities in the kingdom—the power to assist in building a global economy that provides meaningful employment for all; the ability to stop the starvation of children in places like Africa—really stop it along with ending ravaging diseases; the ability to teach the value of infants in the womb so they will no longer be dismembered and thrown in the trash.

Summary: Compare the trial to the opportunities in the kingdom.

3.  A really disappointing end to a trial is when no lessons are learned. Some may simply hunker down and try to white-knuckle their way through their trial, enduring but never learning.  It is true there are times when we don’t fully understand what it is we are to be learning. It may be years before the full understanding of the trial is revealed.  Then again, we may never fully understand it in this life.  But we can respond while in our trials by learning many lessons from God as He works with us during the trial.  

One of the biggest roadblocks to learning in a trial is to continuously ask, “why”.  The better question is, “What can I learn?”  Obsessing over “why” is really asking, “Why is God doing this to me?”  As with Job, God may not be doing anything to you.  Asking “why” can become an accusation against the One who will deliver you. Our antagonist is not God; it is tri-fold:  Satan, this world, and most of all, our human nature.  Rather than being like Job who blamed his troubles on God; ask, instead, for growth from the trial.  Ask God to open your mind to the things you need to learn:

Hebrews 5:8-9 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”  KJV

1 Peter 1:6-7:  “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”  KJV

James 1:4-6: “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”  KJV

Summary: Learn from the trial—it is a terrible thing to waste.

Sometimes God wards us off from trials; sometimes God delivers us from the trial; and sometimes God delivers us in the trial.  However God chooses to deliver us, we know all things involved in our trials will be to our good (Romans 8:28).

David O’Malley