All three Apostles (John, Paul, and James) agree that the testing of our faith produces endurance and that if endurance be allowed to take its stand it will bring about the perfection in our life that Christ desires. (I Peter 1:6-7; Romans 5:3-5) The Bible says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b)
Going Through Trials Are Necessary
This means we do not have a choice! That all must go through many hardships, difficulties, trials, periods of suffering, tribulation, and to some degree even persecution. No Christian is exempt from these hardships. This is not just in the beginning but throughout our Christian pilgrimage.
Yet the church leads many people to accept Christ as their Savior and never tells them that these things will happen as sure as the sun rises in the East. The church as a whole is negligent to share this with the new disciples in Christ. And for those who have been Christians for many years can attest that this is true.
The question we must ask this morning…and answer is why we must go through many hardships to enter into the kingdom of God. No doubt this one question has occupied the mind of men for a long time now. Why must a Christian suffer all manner of hardships? I am convinced from my study of Scripture that our suffering is allowed by a sovereign God to strengthen our faith and dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Without faith and dependence upon the Lord we cannot please Him nor do His will.
Those who come to Christ, especially in our day, are very independent and prideful. They do not rely on Christ for anything and believe in their heart that they have something to add to His Kingdom through their own wisdom and human accomplishments. Therefore, God chooses to use hardship, suffering, and afflictions to humble the prideful and cause the independent to depend totally upon Him for all of life.
Even the great Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, some great affliction, to keep him from being too prideful.
We all go through trials. I have seen it in this church where different families have gone through various trials. Just know that God uses these trials to strengthen our faith and bring us closer to Him. He uses them to cause us to depend totally on Him for all of life. Turn to James Chapter one, verse two. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Going through Trials Strengthens Our Faith
So consider it pure undiluted joy. Do you know why we do that? Trials are anything but joyous. What could possibly make us have joy in our trials? The Apostle answers us by saying that we know that this happens to test our faith – to try it – to make it strong – to make it as precious as gold that has gone through the refiner’s fire. This joy looks at the present and at the future at the same time.
In the present it rejoices that God is making our faith strong. It rejoices that God is working in our life. It is joyful because without faith strengthened we cannot get anything from the Lord. A weak faith gets nothing from the Lord, whereas a strong faith gets everything He has to offer. That is, all of His power can now be poured into humble earthen vessels to manifest His works here on earth. The power of God is poured through His grace-gifts so they can be manifested to His church for the common good.
But it also has a future dimension in that our faith develops perseverance. That is, it has staying power. No matter how great the affliction the Christian only grows stronger. Instead of being broken by grievous affliction and trials of many kinds, the Christian is only made stronger in his or her faith. They only grow more dependent upon the risen Lord.
If you look at the great saints of the past you will see clearly they all had their times of great trials and tribulation, but also you see clearly how God was able to use them in a mighty way. Once the metal has passed through the fires of afflictions then it is ready to be used by its Master. Moses was one such man. There is probably no greater man than Moses other than Jesus Christ himself. Yet in the beginning after God had opened his eyes to see the afflictions of his people – the nation of Israel, he fell into a most grievous trial. The Bible says that he rose up and slew an Egyptian to protect a fellow Jew. I can tell you his entire life was changed in a moment. He was stripped from his position and power and expelled from his country. As he wandered in the desert God allowed this great torment to strengthen his faith and dependence on God alone. We know the story all too well that God used Moses to deliver the nation of Israel – he was used by God in a mighty and powerful way.
Therefore, consider it all joy when you enter into various trials knowing that God will use it to strengthen your faith, it will cause you to walk close to Him, and perhaps even be used by Him in a very special and powerful way. But Satan and your old nature will do everything he or it can do to circumvent the trials coming into your life so that you will not allow them to finish their work making you complete.
How to Face Various Trials
So how do we face various trials in our life? (1) First of all we must learn that trials can and usually do come when we least expect them. The Bible makes it clear that we fall into various trials, as an unsuspecting animal falls into a well hid trap. This means the Christian should always be prepared, walking close to God, and full of the Holy Spirit – but for most of us we simply are not prepared and fall headlong into the next trial to test our faith. And when we do, we face the old nature and Satan himself.
First let’s look at the old nature. The King James Bible translates trials as temptations and I will agree that our trials will tempt us beyond what we think we can handle. About a year ago I faced the most grievous trial of my life that has lasted for the better part of a year. I can tell you there were times when the old nature wanted to do some pretty horrific things- to strike back at the false witnesses that came against me – to even lie or make up stories to shift the blame off myself. But I can tell you I resisted the old sin nature at every turn. My wife and I stood on God’s Word. We had many sleepless nights and prayer vigils that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. There were more times than once when we would sit together and sing through the entire Baptist hymnal praising and glorifying the risen Lord.
There were times when the old nature would want to throw in the towel and come clean out of the ministry and turn our back on the One that saved us. This, dear friend, was how horrible our time of testing has been. Enough to just throw up our hands and want to quit everything, but again I will tell you we stood the test, keeping the faith, continuing our ministry to His church –preaching at every opportunity Christ gave us.
Secondly, Satan will attack maliciously those who go through trials and tribulations. He indeed is the father of lies. He will tell you that what you are going through no one else has gone through. But friends, that is a lie of Satan because the Bible says clearly that there is no temptation or trial that is not common among men. That is to say that what you are going through now has been gone through by someone else before. Someone somewhere in time has experienced what you are now experiencing. See, Satan wants to make you think that God is unaware and unable to handle what you’re going through. Satan continues his lies by saying that this trial will surely break you because God is not with you and He will not deliver you. But what does the Bible say, “No temptation (or trial) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (or tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (or tested), he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Cor. 10:13) Amen!
In fact, there was one morning that seemed worse than the others when it seemed as though God would never deliver me and everything would be lost. I was on my way to work about midway between home and work, when the most amazing thing happened to me. As I was crying out to the Lord in prayer, I noticed a car speeding out of a driveway across two lanes of traffic and headed right for my left hand door –where I sat. The only thing I could think about is I am a goner when all of sudden my car was miraculously moved out of its way as if God Himself put His hands upon my car. And immediately I heard the voice of God say as clearly as I am speaking to you today, “If I can deliver you from this accident then I can deliver you from your trials!”
And I have been delivered from the worse trial of my life – not the way I envisioned it but delivered nonetheless. And God will do the same for you. We need to stop listening to Satan and have faith in Christ that He is in control of our life and that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him.
Dear friends, let me conclude by saying that the trials that God allows are meant to strengthen your faith and if we can take our stand and stand under them allowing them to have their full effect then we will be made complete lacking in nothing. This is the promise of Scripture. The Bible says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:.4)
That is, we cannot run away or throw up our hands listening to the Devil or allowing ourselves to be tempted. But we must stand firm and when we do, God will make us perfect and complete not lacking anything. How will we be made complete? Our completeness is accomplished when we learn to completely die to self – trusting in and depending on Christ for all of life. We can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
You learn to humble yourself to the degree that Christ’s power can now be manifested in you. Friends, Christ said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Has God been allowed to do great things in and through you? If you stand in the testing of your faith, then you will be used by Him in a very powerful and glorious way! Amen.