Trials, Hardship, Difficulties, Persecution
What a pain! Everyone wants to "Have a nice day"... but
sometimes life just doesn't cooperate!
Trials are a fact of life. We need to accept this fact and learn to
how respond to trials properly. There are many good reasons why we
shouldn't get discouraged, but should take heart because of what God
is doing in our lives.
Trials are a natural part of life.
- Natural calamities - Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
- The sins of others - Job 24:2-4, 13-17.
- Our own sins - Job 5:6-7; see also many of the Proverbs. [Make
sure that this is not the reason for your trials. Don't add
unnecessary difficulties to your life! 1 Peter 4:15.]
If you are a Christian, those who oppose Christ may add additional
trials to your life.
- Don't be surprised by this fact - 1 Peter 4:12.
- Focus your attention on the future - 1 Peter 4:13; Hebrews 12:2-3
(follow Jesus' example).
- Keep on doing what is good - 1 Peter 4:19.
- Remember that all people will give account to God for
everything they do in this life. Those who oppose you will answer for
their actions - 1 Peter 4:5.
- [Note: Our real enemy is not the people, but the devil
and his forces - Ephesians 6:12. We should pray for the people who
bring us trouble, and love them, rather than trying to retaliate with
harm - Luke 6:27-28, 31.]
How Should We Respond?
This includes not only our response to the persecution we receive
from those who hate Jesus, but also our response to the troubles of
life that everyone faces.
How not to respond? A few of the ways are...
- Not with indignant surprise or discouragement; not weary and
ready to give-up - 1 Peter 4:12; Hebrews 12:2-3; Galatians 6:9.
- Not ready to abandon the truth - Matthew 13:3, 5-6, 20-21 (from
Jesus' parable about the farmer who was planting seed).
- Not with worry about the future - Matthew 6:25-34.
How to respond...
- Talk to God and let him worry about the problem - James
5:13 (pray); 1 Peter 5:7 (let God "worry" about it, not
you); 1 Peter 4:19a (commit the situation to God).
- Continue to do what is good - 1 Peter 4:19b; Galatians 6:9.
- Have a "future focus" - Romans 8:18; 1 Peter 4:13; 5:1, 10.
Having patient endurance:
- We need to have patient endurance - James 5:7-8; Romans 12:12.
- How? Like a soldier, an athlete, a farmer - 2 Timothy 2:3-7.
- Why? In order to bring honor and glory to God - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
- Why? For the good of others - 2 Timothy 2:10; 2 Corinthians 1:6.
Examples we can follow:
- The Old Testament prophets; also Job - James 5:10-11.
- The apostle Paul - 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; 6:3-10.
- Jesus Christ - throughout his life - [read the gospels].
- People throughout the centuries, who loved God. Some examples:
Hebrews 11:32 - 12:3 (see also the rest of chapter 11).
NOTE: Pay close attention to Hebrews 12:2. After presenting us
with an entire chapter full of good examples of faith, the author
does not tell us to focus our attention on these people, but
on Jesus. The best of people are imperfect. We may benefit from their
example; we may learn from them. But we need to look beyond them,
to the one who is the source of our salvation.
This world is full of people who focus their attention on people.
In the church, such people tend to lavish praise on past heroes of
the faith - men and women who focused their attention on God!
Yet no person who loves God wants the attention on himself.
Even when they use themselves as an example, they have the attitude
of the apostle Paul, who said, "Follow my example, just as I
follow Christ's example" (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Good Reasons to Endure It All
God uses our trials and suffering to accomplish good in our lives
- Romans 8:28(+).
- God will use these things, like discipline, to train us and to
bring about good things in our lives - Hebrews 12:7 (see also v. 4 - 13).
- God will use them to refine and purify our faith - 1 Peter 1: 6-7.
- God will use them to strengthen us in many ways, and to build-up
a confident hope regarding the future - James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5.
- God will use them to reduce our desire to sin - 1 Peter 4:1-2.
- God will use them to draw us to him! Psalm 119:67, 71-72.
- Note that all these promises apply only to those who belong to
God. Those who do not love God have no such hope.
** REMEMBER THIS **
All people have trials. As disciples of Jesus, we may experience some
trials and difficulties that the rest of the world does not
experience - sometimes even trials that they bring upon us.
However, we must remember that, in the end, it will be far worse for
those who reject God, than for anyone who belongs to him.
The difficulties and hardships that may be associated with salvation
(in this present life) will be nothing compared to what
those who are ungodly and unrepentant will experience for all eternity.
For us, the future is glorious!
- Nothing can separate us from God's love - Romans 8:31-39 (see
also the context).
[Note that this is true even now. In this respect, the future is
- God will reward us for all we must endure - James 1:12.
- We will share in Jesus' glory, when he returns - Romans 8:18; 1
Peter 4:13; 5:10.
This should have a significant impact on our views about trials.
It is from this perspective, that we can have joy
during trials (James 1:2)!
Dennis Hinks © 2001