Audio: Chapter 4 "Various Trials"
Chapter 4 “Various Trials”
“Consider it all joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith
What is God’s purpose for our trials and tribulations? There are too many Christians who have no idea why God allows our sufferings. Without this understanding, is it any wonder that Christians today are so easily defeated? We will see that there are many benefits that come from our trials and tests, especially the building of our faith and the endurance needed to finish the course set before us.
The most important thing we need to realize during our trials, tribulations, tests, and temptations is that God is in control! It is His hand that allows these trials to touch us or not touch us. When He does allow it, He sends His grace that enables us to endure it.
Permission for adversity. The most comforting thing to know is that Satan cannot touch us without God’s permission. “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him’” (Job. 1:12). Satan not only needs permission, but he is also given specific instructions on how he can touch us. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat . . .” (Luke 22:31).
Temptations. The temptations that we experience, Scripture tells us, are common to man, yet God does provide a way of escape. “No temptation has overtaken you but that which is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). He is not going to take you out of the fire until you are willing to walk in it, walk through it, and endure it!
Temptations are brought on by our own lusts. Lust is simply what we want. Also God cannot tempt us to do evil, but instead it is our lusts that tempt us to do what we know we shouldn’t! “Let no one say when he is being tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:13–14). Women are caught up in condemning their husbands’ lusts (adultery, drugs, alcohol, or pornography), yet they fail to see their own lusts for food, buying, or even their marriages! Lust is lust—a desire for what we want!
We are in His hand. “For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men and their deeds are in the hand of God” (Eccl. 9:1). We make the mistake of foolishly trying to get things from others, especially from our husbands, when all that we receive will be from the Lord!
“Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord” (Prov. 29:26).
“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord” (Prov. 21: 31).
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).
Repentance and salvation. “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:9–10). God allows us to be sorrowful to bring us to repentance. When we try to make our husbands (or others) sorry for what they have done, it will not bring true and genuine repentance, but instead will harden their hearts toward us (and God)!
We need grace. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9–10). You will never see restoration until you exhibit contentment in your trials.
How do we get the grace we need to make it through our trials? We gain grace through humility.
“God hates the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
“Blessed are the humble for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Prov. 29:23).
Boasting about our weaknesses, confessing our faults, and being humble will enable the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Then we will learn contentment no matter what our circumstances. Once we are content, God can give us what we’ve been seeking—our husbands back!
Learning contentment. We see that we must learn contentment by the difficult circumstances that God has allowed. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. . . . In every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12).
Learning obedience. Even Jesus learned obedience from His suffering. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
He will perfect us. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Once He has begun a good work in you (your husband or loved ones), He will complete it. And please don’t try to play “junior holy spirit” with your husband!
We are to be a comfort to others. We are not merely to accept God’s comfort—we are commanded to give that comfort to others, no matter what their affliction! “The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).
Our Father’s discipline. Many times our suffering is discipline for disobeying God’s Law. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons. . . . He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:5–10). When a trial comes into your day, ask yourself, “Is this God disciplining me, or is He testing me to see how I am going to react?”
Discipline is a blessing. We must follow the examples of the prophets of the Bible to help others to endure their adversity. “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:10).
To receive a blessing. When evil is done to us or insults are cast our way, we must endure them, without returning them, to receive our blessing. We need to remember that insults and evils are brought into our lives to give us an opportunity to receive a blessing. First Peter 3:9 says, “Not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead, for you were called for the very purpose that you may inherit a blessing.” “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidations and do not be troubled” (1 Pet. 3:14). If you continue to respond with an insult or another evil, don’t expect to be blessed.
Discipline may be sorrowful. Discipline is never joyful when you are in the midst of it. Yet, those who have been trained by His discipline know the rewards of righteousness—peace and a restored marriage. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).
It begins with Christians. Why must suffering first begin with Christians? It begins with Christians first because sinful, disobedient Christians will never draw others to the Lord. Again, it is the “will of God” that we are put though sufferings. We need to allow ourselves to suffer (usually at the hands of another, even our own husbands) by entrusting ourselves to God. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet. 4:17, 19).
The power of our faith. It is our faith that opens the door to miracles. You need to believe that He is able to restore your marriage, and not doubt, in your heart. “And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt it in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray, they shall be granted unto you’” (Mark 11:22–24).
God in His Word has told us that we will suffer. “For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain” (1 Thess. 3:4–5). What has happened in your marriage is not a sign that it is over. It is what God used to get your attention and is now using to change you. Don’t give up! Don’t let Satan steal the miracle that God has for you when you have endured and prevailed!
With God. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). “Looking upon them, Jesus said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:27). Nothing (not a thing) is impossible with God. Work with God. Don’t have your plan and expect God to bless it. He is not going to work with you; instead, you must work with God.
What you speak. “. . . Let us hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14). “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account of the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15). “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not . . .” (Dan. 3:17–18). We need to speak what God says in His Word, without wavering, with hope on our lips. But wait until you are asked to give an account. You will be asked if you are filled with the joy of the Lord in the midst of your adversity! When asked about your hope regarding your marriage, be sure that you answer the other person with reverence, respect, and gentleness. Never use Scripture to argue with anyone!
Note: If it is your husband who asks, remember, he will be won “without a word”!
Gird your mind and stay fixed. “Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13). (Sober means clear thinking.) Be clear in your mind about what you really believe to avoid the consequences of double-mindedness.
Be joyful. We are to be joyful in our trials because we know they are producing endurance that will enable us to finish the course set before us. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:2–6).
Be prepared—your faith will be tested! Fears and doubts come into everyone’s mind; just don’t entertain them! Instead, think only good things. If you doubt, you will have trouble believing and the trials will become harder. And remember, we will have a “variety” of trials, some major and others mere irritations. We need to thank Him for all of our trials. This is our sacrifice of praise.
Rejoice! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute [report], if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:4–9).
Clearly most battles are won or lost in the mind. Follow the Lord’s advice for peace during your trials to gain victory over them—praise the Lord in the midst of them! Rejoice for what you know He is doing. Then think on this, speak of this, and listen only to this. Many times close friends call to tell you what your husband is up to. These usually are not “good reports” and most of the time they are not lovely, pure, or right—so don’t listen!
Faith is not seen. So often women write to me because they are looking for signs of improvement in their marriage or in their husband’s attitude toward them. You must remember that Scripture is very clear—faith is unseen!
When others ask you about your situation, answer them with, “Praise the Lord—God is working!”
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16–18).
Faith is the conviction of things not seen. When you are experiencing what Paul calls “light affliction,” it may still be breaking your heart and very painful. Remind yourself of the most important truth: these afflictions are meant to be only momentary! And these same afflictions are not only temporary but they are producing something wonderful for you—they are getting you ready for a new and wonderful marriage. Remember, the suffering is temporary but the benefits will last an eternity! “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
Walk by faith—not by sight. Most people start believing when they begin to “see something happening,” but this is not faith! “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Looking at our circumstances. When Peter looked at his circumstances, he sank—and you will too. “And He said ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matt. 14:29–31).
For our testing. Probably the most important lesson in our stand for our families and our marriages is being able to pass our test—the test of our faith in His Word and not being swayed by emotion or false statements made by others. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2). When you are perfected and your refining is complete, then you will see your husband home!
Tested by fire. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though for a little while, if necessary you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6–7).
So many have failed their test and have continued to walk in the desert as the people of Israel did because they lacked faith. They murmured and complained, which led to rebellion. The proof of your faith, which is a heart full of faith and contentment in your present circumstances, is more precious than gold.
Keep the faith. Do not turn to another plan when things get tough; do not compromise what you started out to do. Satan is known for bringing new (and wrong) solutions to our trials. Discerning and deciding to stay on the right path is the test we must continue to pass. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness . . . ” (2 Tim. 4:7–8).
A cord of three. If you have been walking with the Lord for some time and have become weary, ask God to send you one other woman who will help you not bend from your commitment. “Two are better than one for they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Eccl. 4:9–12). Here are some three-cord examples found in the Scriptures:
Moses, Aaron, and Hur: “But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set” (Ex. 17:12). Also see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the book of Daniel, chapter 3. You, just one friend, and the Lord are a powerful threefold cord!!
A Quick Reference to Trials and Tribulations
God is the One in control, not man and not the devil!
- Justice is from the Lord (Prov. 29:26).
- An answer is from the Lord (Prov. 16:1).
- The heart is turned by the Lord (Prov. 21:1).
- Their deeds are in God’s hand (Eccl. 9:1).
- Thou (God) has done it (Ps. 44:9–15).
- He (God) raised the storm (Ps. 107:1–32).
- He (God) removed lover and friend (Ps. 88:8, 18).
What do our trials do for us?
- The power of Christ will dwell in us (2 Cor. 12:9–10).
- We will learn to be content (Phil. 4:9).
- We will receive a reward (2 Tim. 4:7, 19).
- We lack nothing (James 1:2–4).
- He will enable us to comfort others (2 Cor. 3:1–4).
- He will perfect what He started in us (Phil. 1:6–13).
- We will have our loved one back (Philem. 1:15).
- We will receive mercy (Heb. 4:15).
- We will learn obedience (Heb. 5:7–8).
- They will produce endurance (James 1:2–4).
- We will receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
- We will prove our faith (1 Pet. 1:6–7).
- We will follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21).
- We will share in His sufferings (1 Pet. 3:13).
- We will be perfected, confirmed, strengthened, and established (1 Pet. 5:10).
Ask God for guidance through every trial. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5–6).
Let us call on Him for strength, draw close to Him in our time of need. Let us allow Him to discipline us, try us, test us. Let us rejoice always in all things, not just in the good but also in the troubles that come our way. Let us keep our hope close to our lips and stay steadfast in our minds. Let us always remember that it is His will that we face these hard times, and that they are for our good!
“Let us rejoice that He considers us worthy to suffer for His name!”
“She smiles at the future.”
“And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Personal commitment: to consider it all joy when I encounter various trials. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I commit to allowing the testing of my faith to help produce my endurance. And I will let endurance have its perfect result, that I may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
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