Trials and Tribulations

by Cody Horne

We will endure various trials at many times throughout our lives. We might become financially unstable, lose a close relative, get fired, lose a partner, or have to endure a multitude of other hardships. Many will lose things they hold dear. As believers, how are we to respond to such trials?

When faced with such hardships, many Christians become anxious, depressed, and angry. These are natural reactions. It’s our natural position to desire pleasure and dislike the removal of pleasure. We want control of our lives because we wish to minimize displeasure and maximize joy.

However, we should ask ourselves why our focus is on a life of pleasure and self-fulfillment. Of course pleasure is pleasurable, but should this be our end goal? When our end goal in life is to take in the most enjoyment we possibly can and minimize as much pain as possible we will be disappointed with our lives.

This perspective of a pleasure driven life is not the way in which Christians are called to live. Scripture teaches us to expect trials and tribulations.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” – James 1:2

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”  – 1 Peter 4:12

  A wise minister once pointed out to me something quite important about James 1:2. The verse says, “when you meet trials” not “if you meet trials”. Trials will come in this life. It should be expected.

If it is expected, then why are so many Christians crushed when trials arrive? Do we not know they are coming? One of the major problems for believers is that we are still living in a pursuit of pleasure mindset. Pleasure is our end goal. I am in no way saying these trials should not hurt, or that they do not cause suffering. I am simply saying that if pleasure is our end goal, then our lives will be nothing more than a roller coaster ride filled with high and low moments. At the end of the ride, we will realize we have wasted our time.

Count It All Joy

The first part of James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy.” How could anyone count losing a spouse or being robbed as joy? Don’t these things bring lots of pain and no pleasure? Of course they don’t bring pleasure; however we are to have a different perspective about them. We are to count them as joy because Paul tells us in Romans 5:3  “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance”.

What is this endurance Paul speaks of? It is the constant shaping of our lives to reflect Christ. Tribulations in this life are God’s method of shaping us into the image of his Son. So, if the trials of this life are meant to be the tools God uses to shape us, how are we supposed to respond to such trials?

We are to embrace them. No, this doesn’t mean we somehow have to force ourselves to enjoy them. They are painful and there isn’t anything we can do to change that. However, we should not beg God to take the trials away simply because they are painful. Too many times Christians beg God to get them out of their situation. God is using the trials to shape us and asking to be removed from them would mean He will have to teach us the same lessons again in the future. We should not ask God to “get us out” but ask Him to “get us through.” We should ask Him to show us what He wishes to show us, so we can learn and become more like Christ.

What About Needs?

Do not think that this perspective says God doesn’t want us to have pleasure. It does not say that He doesn’t care about our physical needs. He does care about these needs as well as our spiritual needs. The issue arises when we spend our time worrying about these physical needs and pleasures.

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:29-31

 

Here we see a God who cares about our day-to-day needs but tells us to “seek his kingdom” and He will provide. This is the perspective believers ought to have when we are going through trials or catch ourselves worrying about our futures. God tells us to seek Him and He will provide everything else. 

As Christians, we must change our perspective on what we need. Pleasure should not be the end goal in life. If it is our end goal we will be disappointed. Our focus is to be on Christ and becoming more like Him. We shouldn’t cry “get us out” of various trials in life. We should realize that God is using these trials to shape us into the image of His Son, and ask Him to teach us what He wants us to learn. God is also not neglecting our physical needs. God knows what we need and we should not spend our lives worrying and being depressed about what we think we need but don’t have. 

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:26

6 Comments

  1. Grit on October 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    …many flawed thoughts; not rightly deviding the Word of God! We shouldn’t ask God to get us out of trials??? Why then pray for a loved one with cancer????
    Do you take money in exchange for your work? Do you strive to have your job cover all the expenses you have in life (that are really self imposed anyway) on a daily basis? Why don’t all the Christians just go live in the streets and wait for manna to fall right into their mouth – oh, wait, I guess that could be considered “pleasure” also, since you wouldn’t have to work for your food, and the Bible clearly says that we will eat by the sweat of our brows? Would you be in trouble if the “provisions” didn’t come? Would you try to find another job to make up for your loses and continue to cover your families (financial) expenses? Why not just stay home to save the time for more “prayers”? If the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills himself said in Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hopw and a future.”, WHY should we NOT hope for a pleasurable life while trusting in our loving Father as his chosen children? God never said he uses our trials (which are initiated by the devil, not God!) as tools to shape us, but rather our obedience. He did say that “ALL things” would work for the good of those that love and trust him, so we would not fear nor worry EVEN if the sun doesn’t always shines or we have an encounter with the devil like Job did, for GOD would never leave us nor forsake us! If God has not intended even the riches of this world, AS WELL as the riches of heaven for HIS OWN CHILDREN – then WHO are they for???? God BLESSES those who obey him, not out of greed, but out of complete LOVE and TRUST in him, and YES – he blesses even with material things (as Job’s story will tell you!) Don’t confuse TRUST with FAITH, which is CLEARLY build on ACTION! For we LIVE by FAITH, NOT by sight!
    God promises to BLESS our storehouses and NEVER said we couldn’t store away things, as we are NOT birds, but he said NOT TO WORRY, that no matter how much you do have at any given moment in life, it wouldn’t be enough or there couldn’t be coming more provisions from our Heavenly Father. He is the GIVER OF ALL : )
    I am very discouraged that a site like this will add and take away from God’s Word to make a point that is very obviously impregnated by the devil’s thoughts himself, to down-grade God’s PERFECT LOVE, PROVISIONS and CARE at each stage in our lifes, whereas the Gospel talks of POWER for the BELIEVER in CHRIST! My prayer is for you to consider all your flawed thoughts and statements you posted and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth in a Light that brings POWER and GLORY to GOD, for NOTHING is impossible WITH HIM! HE is the ONE who brings HOPE AND PEACE THAT PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING. HE helps us to be content which such things as we have IN EACH MOMENT, and to know how to be FULL and suffer loss (btw., you can’t lose what you don’t have; and a man that can be intrusted with little, will be intrusted with a lot). God desires mercy and not sacrifice. Our love for him is NOT messured by how much stuff we own, but how much HE OWNS OUR HEARTS AND THOUGHTS <3 This will NOT be a site I would encourage others to read and trust in at this point, for it stirs up confusion and discouragement in a person! WHY would I trust "this/your" god with my life?????
    Rev. 22:18

    • Cody Horne on October 11, 2015 at 1:48 am

      I completely understand your position. Know that I am in no way condemning those who ask God for healing in any way shape or form. Praying for healing can be seen throughout scripture and I should have made this more clear in the article. I am also in no way attempting to claim that God does not want us to take pleasure in the goodness of His marvelous creation. Claiming so would also be in violation of scripture. Pleasure is good and God made it that way. However I’m speaking to those who have placed to much focus on pleasure and comfort. If we are chasing pleasure and not Christ, the author of such pleasure, then we are waisting our time. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort and this is what I am attempting to get at with the article. I hope this helps in some way.

  2. Suzie Hartwright on October 13, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Hi Cody, I agree with you. This was a very powerful article.

    I understood your point and it is very true; it’s at the heart of God’s will for us. He refines us like gold and silver. What you’ve written also reminds me of a really great article someone posted on the internet years ago. It was about Deuteronomy 32:11  “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:”

    I couldn’t locate the one I’d read before, but these links below illustrate the point of it. Thanks again for your encouragement and your work for the kingdom of God. = )
    Blessings.

    http://youtu.be/_kuRklwYIhY

    http://library.timelesstruths.org/texts/Food_for_Lambs/Stirring_the_Eagles_Nest/

    http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/spiritual-lessons-from-the-eagles-nest-philip-harrelson-sermon-on-growth-in-christ-102314.asp

  3. Doug on October 25, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Thank you Cody for this insightful and enlightening article.

    I endured, quite literally, a difficult and unjust trial (unjust by man, not God). I was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. I am reminded of your reference to 1 Peter 4:12, for I was “surprised at the fiery trial … (it was) as though something strange were happening…” It did not seem real that this could be happening to me. Although I was a believer, I never took the time necessary to become closer to God. When I was first sentenced to prison, someone came to me and asked if I would like to go to the prison chapel for Sunday services. When I entered, I was given a bible to keep. After the service, I was brought back to my cell. I asked God why this was happening, and I opened the bible. It opened to Job, and I read the entire chapter. I didn’t dare compare myself to Job, a man beloved by God, but I did try to see some similarities in my situation. It gave me strength.

    Because I was isolated and desperate, I turned to God for all things. Something I rarely did when I was free. I always tried to handle things myself.
    Some months later, I remember first reading Psalms 66; it was a turning point for me. I began to understand and accept why I was there; God would “refine me like silver”. I could have greatly benefited from the thought-provoking article above, but somehow, I began to instinctively understand these things on my own. After finding that passage, a friend who visited me in prison, asked how I was holding up. I remember telling her I was actually grateful for being there, that I have a greater understanding of who I am and the importance of God in my life. I remember how she looked at me then; like I must have given up on hope. But nothing could be further from the truth.

    I stopped worrying so much about life on the outside. I knew God would provide. Although my house was now in foreclosure, my elderly mother was doing poorly and my girlfriend had moved on, I concentrated on God and his plan for me. When I prayed to the Lord with a question, I opened the bible and the answer was always there. I jotted these questions in the margins of the very pages that gave me these complete and miraculous answers. It was of great comfort to me. The only question that was never answered was when I would go home. It makes sense to me now why that was. I was not ready, I had more to learn and time is irrelevant to God.

    One day, I was told that my attorney was waiting to talk to me. When I saw him he told me the Appeals court had overturned my sentence. It was a unanimous decision -all three judges agreed. I was a free man.

    I had spent three years in prison. It was difficult but made bearable only through my faith in God. I knew I was a better man because of it, although no one but me could understand my lack of bitterness or anger. I was determined not to lose the connection I now had with God. I pray several times a day, read and watch select shows on gaining a greater insight to God. I know that the Lord has guided me to such informative shows as Dr. Ankerberg’s and this website.

    By the way, all of God’s promises to me in His answers were fulfilled. I did not loose my house to foreclosure; my mom pulled through and is still doing well. The Lord even saw fit to bless me with a lovely woman who will soon be my wife. I was not a bad person, not a criminal who was turned around by faith. I was just an average man who thought of himself as a Christian, but did nothing to further his beliefs. I went through my trial, put everything in His hands and through the Grace of God it has turned out to be a wonderful blessing.

    Thank you for so eloquently putting into words the necessity of such difficulties and reminding me of how grateful I am for what God has done for me.

    • Shie on January 23, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      what a powerful testimony brother.
      keyword i learned from you, NOW YOU HAVE MADE A STEP CLOSER TO GOD. that’s it.

  4. Shie on January 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    still desire the good in life, declaring them all to be yours in JESUS NAME striving and doing your part knowing that God will give us the grace/blessings HOW to do it.

    But when HARDSHIP comes to our life in any forms we must be ready to endure and overcome them VICTORIOUSLY still knowing that God’s grace/blessing HOW to do it.

    but the same rule must apply:
    whether good or bad things may happen in each of our lives ALL OF US MUST REMAIN IN THE VINE. nobody should detach himself from God. instead let God be GLORIFIED and be the LORD of all and in every segments of our earthly life until we all die physically.

    FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

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