1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 NIV
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.
Trials are hardships, sufferings, troubles, and difficulties which come into our lives, and which try (test) our faith. Some of these come because we live in a fallen sin sick world, where evil reigns for a predetermined amount of time, only which God knows the time that it will all end.
Some of these trials come, nonetheless, to those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, because we are followers of Christ, and Satan’s goal is to destroy us. And, so he and all his hordes will hate and persecute us, in hopes to trip us up or to get us to give up.
Sufferings and persecutions are also God’s will and plan for our lives, for through our sufferings he draws us closer to him, he strengthens us in our faith, and he matures us in our walks of faith. Through our difficulties our Lord is pruning us and purifying us and making us holy, and he is conforming us to his likeness. So, we are destined for these trials, for they are for our good, that we might share in God’s holiness (Heb. 12:1-13).
Therefore, we should be encouraged, knowing that our God is allowing these to come into our lives for a purpose, and that they are for our good, and that they are to grow us to maturity in Christ and to make us holy vessels whom God can use in the lives of others to help them in their trials.
Perseverance in Trials
2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 NIV
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
When we are growing in our faith to maturity in Christ, and when we are being used of the Lord, for his service, in the lives of others, and we are following our Lord in obedience, we serve as a threat to Satan’s kingdom. And, so he uses other humans to plot evil against us and to persecute us in order to stop us from following Christ and from being used of him to advance the kingdom of heaven.
So, it is in these times that it is so critical that we persevere, knowing that we are destined for these trials, and that they have come to test our faith, and that God has allowed them in our lives. Even though Satan means them for evil in our lives, God means them for good, to accomplish his will and purposes in and through our lives. So, we must not cave to our enemy’s tactics against us, but we must put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off all his evil advances against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20).
Although we do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, through our trials we are made worthy to be called a child of God and a servant of the Lord Jesus. Scripture speaks much to the subject of us living lives worthy of the calling of our Lord, and of what kinds of lives are regarded as worthy of the Lord, too. For one, we must deny self, take up our cross daily and follow Christ in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives (Lu. 9:23-25).
Testing of Your Faith
James 1:2-4, 12 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything… Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
I think that this is one of the hardest concepts to grasp, that we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. We may endure them, but to regard all our sufferings as joy is hard. Trials and tribulations, persecutions and rejections naturally turn us to sorrow, not to joy. So, how is this accomplished? And, what does it look like exactly?
I was reminded recently that Job first grieved his suffering before he was able to give praise to God and to accept suffering from the hand of God as well as good. Paul even expressed how he and his companions were under great pressure, far beyond their ability to endure, so that they even despaired of life, and yet he often spoke of joy in our sufferings and persecutions, too.
For, it isn’t as though, when we go through trials, that we always immediately jump for joy. Sometimes we must first grieve, as we call out to God in our times of difficulty. And, then, as we call on him in prayer, and he encourages and comforts our hearts, we can rejoice because we know God is allowing these troubles to take place for a purpose, and they are ultimately for our good, that we might become mature in Christ, not lacking anything.
Faith Proved Genuine
1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
After we have grieved, and we have cried out to God in our suffering, and he comforts our hearts with the truths of his Word, and we learn to rest in him and to trust in his sovereignty, then we can rejoice. We can sing to God in praise and thanksgiving because we are counted worthy to suffer for righteousness’ sake, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation.
This really is what it means to put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. His schemes and his tricks that he pulls are meant to bring us down, so when we make it through the trial unscathed by our enemy’s evil attacks, that is cause for rejoicing, because we, in the power of God’s Spirit within us, were victorious over our enemy, and we did not surrender our wills to his evil purposes. Amen!
The purpose of our trials is not only to test our faith, but it is for the purpose to prove our faith as genuine. It is kind of like a trial in a court of law when a lawyer has to prove his case in order to win the case. Trials will test our faith, and if our faith is weak or it is not genuine faith, the trial will reveal that, and it will show us where we need to be strengthened in our faith or if what we have is not real faith in Christ, but profession only.
Through the testing of our faith, if we have genuine faith in Christ, and if, through the trial we are strengthened in our faith, this will be cause for rejoicing, but it will also be for the praise and glory of God. But, our faith, too, will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ returns for us, his bride, at which time our salvation will be complete. And, then we will be forever with our Lord, and our trials will be over, and our tears wiped from our eyes, and forever we will sing praises to our God and Lord. Amen!
He Keeps Me Singing
Luther B. Bridgers
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
“Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,”
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.
Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ‘neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face –
That is why I shout and sing.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep
See His foot-prints all the way.
Soon He’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to world’s unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus –
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 5:00 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these encouraging words which are meant to strengthen us through our trials.