When Christians suffer, there is the danger that bitterness may grow in our heart, if we get angry with God for allowing this trouble into our life. Even Job, a man so just that God bragged about him to Satan (Job 1:8), went through unimaginable trials with the loss of his wealth, family, and health. At times he questioned God, yet he remained faithful to Him throughout his ordeal, proclaiming “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
For the unsaved, God may allow trials so that they come to the end of themselves and realize they are sinners in need of a Savior. Once we are saved by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), God may still permit suffering in our lives, as we saw last week.
If we are willfully sinning, He may chasten us to bring us back in line with His perfect will (Hebrews 12:6). Even if we are faithfully following Him, He may allow trials in our life to strengthen our dependence on and faith in Him (Psalm 9:9; 27:5; 37:39), to shape us into Christ’s image (Who suffered for us even though He was without sin; Philippians 3:10), or to give us experience, wisdom and compassion to help others going through similar testing (Galatians 6:2).
But as born-again Christians (John 3:3-8), we can find peace and joy through the trouble in knowing that His grace is sufficient, that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and that He will help us! (Psalm 46). Job’s sons were taken from him, his “friends” criticized him, and his wife told him to curse God and die. But God’s Word assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5).
Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced all the testing we could possibly face, yet He never yielded to sin. He now sits on the throne of grace, freely offering us mercy and grace to help us if we boldly ask Him (Hebrews 4:15-16).
We should realize that He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8,32; Luke 12:30), yet He wants us to pray because it changes us. His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and His presence strengthens and upholds us so that we have no need to be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The Bible commands us to “Fear not!” 365 times – one for every day of the year!
He urges us to cast all our cares, or anxieties, on His broad, loving shoulders (1 Peter 5:7). We can find peace by keeping our mind, heart and priorities fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3-4), through prayer, studying and mediating on His Word, and praising and worshipping Him in all circumstances, knowing that this is His perfect will (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
We can try to carry our own burdens of sin, guilt, shame, regret, unforgiveness and bitterness ourselves, and grow weary to the point of exhaustion and despair. Or we can lay them down at the foot of His cross, where He paid the complete price for all of these, once and for all, freeing us to find His rest (Matthew 11:28) and to receive all the blessings He longs to give us (Luke 11:13).
He exchanges our burdens for His blessings, and He renews and transforms our mind if we turn from thoughts of evil and the darkness of this world (Romans 12:2) to meditating on His light of truth, beauty and excellence (Philippians 4:8).
The greatest blessing we could have in this life is to be in the center of His perfect will, for He created each of us for a purpose designed long before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:13,16). We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:8-10), created for a specific plan destined for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
When believers face Jesus Christ at the judgment seat, it will not be to pay for our sins (He has already paid for these in full) or to determine whether we can enter Heaven, for He has given us His perfect righteousness allowing us to spend eternity in the presence of Holy God (Romans 3:25).
Rather, at the judgment seat, believers will be rewarded for service done for Christ with the right motives, or we will suffer loss for not using opportunities He gave us to fulfill His perfect plan for our life (2 Corinthians 5:10). How sad it would be to miss out on these opportunities and rewards because we gave up too soon (Galatians 6:9), losing hope in our own ability (with good reason) yet failing to trust in His unfailing power!
No matter what struggles we face in this life, we can have victory in Christ Who has overcome all the evil in this world (John 16:33). If we have repented of our sins and asked Him into our heart as Lord and Savior, we have the glorious hope – meaning the sure and joyful expectation – of eternal life with Him in Heaven, and the hope of victory in all our earthly woes (Romans 15:13).
Where there is life, there is hope! (Ecclesiastes 9:4) Jesus wants us to enjoy abundant life in Him (John 10:10) here and now, in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13), to choose life over death as commanded in His Word (Deuteronomy 30:19; Proverbs 13:14). His promises preserve our life (Psalm 119:50).
Realizing that our body is His holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19), which we should present to Him daily as a holy, living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2), will help us make the right choices to honor our body as His dwelling place. Not only is this pleasing to Him, but healthful choices in how we nourish and rest our body and protect it from toxins and other harm will help to keep our vessel in optimal working order to serve Him and persevere through trials.
Time on this earth to serve Him is short (James 4:14; John 9:4), so may we utilize it to the greatest extent possible! Praise God that He is always with us, faithful to hear and answer our prayers, to love, protect, guide and comfort us in our earthly journey until we meet Him face to face in glory!
© 2016 Laurie Collett
Thank you once again for your post Laurie. Being so sick and not being able to do very much, I often fret about life slipping through my fingers. But, it is as you say, through sickness and trials we are shaped and we are able to grow if we give all things to Him. I picture myself sitting quietly on the ground beside Jesus and gently leaning my head against His knee. His love is all around me. Focusing on the world I get so very scared, but focusing on Him, there is a peace beyond my understanding. God bless you friend. Pam in Norway
Only this morning, after the end of our church service, I was sharing with a friend who was visiting our church for the weekend, about how we have coped with the trials we have gone through as a married couple. He was impressed on how we have managed, but my explanation was the same as Job - trusting in the goodness of God and seeking for the good that comes out of tribulations. In our case, the loss of our children to adoption leading to a strong and robust marriage, with both of us waiting upon God and thanking him for his daily sustenance.
Job's experience of personal loss of both possessions and health and his unwavering faith in God has made him one of the greatest characters in the Bible, and one whose example I want to follow.
An excellent post. God bless.
What a beautiful picture you paint with words of resting your head on Jesus' knees, basking in His love. Praise God that He is always with us, through all trials, our Light, Rock and Shelter from the storms of life. Praying for your health, dear sister in Christ. God bless you too,
Amen. We cannot begin to understand God's ways and thoughts, for they are higher than ours. Yet we can trust Him to always do what is best for us in His perfect plan, motivated by His infinite love and empowered by His absolute might and knowledge. Praise God that He included Job's story in His Word so that we would be able to draw encouragement from his faith and faithfulness. May God bless you and Alex,
Habakkuk 3:17-19 tells us, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 8 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.” Even when everything we have expected adn hoped for seems to fail, whe can still trust the Lord, because, as you pointed out, his ways are higher than ours. Great post.
Thank you, Donald, for your encouraging words and for sharing this wonderful passage. It is a source of strength to us in our dance ministry, which requires me to be nimble and balanced in lifts "in high places." Praise God for the joy of our salvation.
That is so right Laurie,
Who will help us? Jesus will help us, and I am sure you have experienced in your life, as I have, proof of this. I have always believed that all things are possible with God and that is why, when I go through trials, I actually end up stronger. For when I am weak, then He is strong and I know that relying on His strength will bring me through.
Thank you Laurie for an encouraging post.
Praise God for His faithfulness, and that His strength is perfected in our weakness. He has proven His faithfulness in my life over and over, and in yours and in the life of every believer. Thank you for your encouragement, and God bless,
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