The Christian life should never be marketed as the way to an easy life. In fact, we should be honest and admit that taking the name of Jesus Christ will bring trouble of all kinds.
Once you are “born again” and God’s new “DNA” pulses through you and the Spirit of God prompts you towards Christ-like living, the struggle gets real.
You can’t lie on your taxes. You won’t hate that neighbor. You follow Christ wherever regardless of who likes it or who opposes. You stand up for the oppressed making waves with the powerful of this earth. You won’t do what you used to do, isolating you from family and friends.
Everyone has trouble in varying degrees and the trials themselves are “varied.” 1 Peter 1:6 uses the word “manifold” or multi-colored, multi-faceted. Layers upon layers. Too messy to explain. Different from anyone else but “common”.
Some trials meet a specific need. 100% tailored for you. What about when God sends you a gift that He chose specifically for you and you open it to find out that it’s a great big trial? 1 Peter 1:6 says that sometimes they are needed. “If necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.”
This is hard to swallow, isn’t it? We want all the good without the bad. Gifts without the gall. But God knows the big picture and allows a trial for our betterment… because it’s the VERY thing we needed.
As Christians, we aren’t living for the here and now. We are being prepared for a future, our life and inheritance in heaven. We’re also being prepared for future ministry at the revelation of Jesus Christ. If we could keep that in mind–that this trial, if responded to properly– will help me to praise God and show His glory more accurately now and at His coming, we’d see things a little more clearly.
If you’ve been alive for any period of time, you’ve seen people make the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe they fail to consult Scripture and make poor decisions. Maybe they say no to obedience or compromise on the “little things.”
I’ve watched as Christians enter and exit failed relationship after failed relationship like a revolving door. The details may change but the root causes are all the same. They leave a church or a spouse or a longtime friend or a job. It’s never their fault. They’re always the victim. They’re always disgruntled and vocal. They’re usually pretty blind and oblivious to their own struggle and how others perceive them.
In my own life, God has used various trials to teach me lessons. When people fail me, I’ve learned to stop looking to people to meet my needs and to put my trust in God. When people have hurt me with words, I’ve learned to look at my own speech, and watch my own words fiercely because word-sins are far reaching and we pay “double” the price here and in eternity as we lose respect and relationships on the altar of saying whatever, and we give account at the judgement for every idle and evil word we’ve dished out. When people don’t have the capacity to love me because of their own junk, I can look to Christ who loved all the unlovely at His own expense and still choose to reach out to them because my needs are already met in Him. Whenever trials are recurring, God is working at something deeper than the “surface” issues we assume. He’s trying to release my death grip on some idol, or cause me to see Him as greater. He wants to kill my pride and grow my humility and love.
Perhaps you are someone who struggles to forgive and you seem to have an endless list of offenses to forgive. You work at it and pray about it and spend inordinate amounts of time obsessing over wrongs done and then praying for a forgiving spirit. This is a trial. The people you are offended with may change, and the situations may change, but at the end of the day (or the decade!) you still hold a grudge and fail to love. You still have malice and jealousy rooted firmly in the soil of hate in your heart. You feel discouraged because you try, but God continues to bring “manifold” people into your life to rub you the wrong way and you are still on Satan’s short leash in the forgiveness department.
Of course, unforgiveness is not a Christian virtue so God brings another trial. “If necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” God is going to bring you to the point where you see that your unforgiveness is not ultimately the problem. He’s going to wear you down and show you that the pride in your heart that causes you to be so constantly offended and unloving is what He’s going for. You might be content to work on forgiving. God says that a humble man in un-offendable and He wants your deeply rooted pride gone.
Whenever you are in the middle of trials, remember that this moment is not all that there is. Eternity is coming and today’s trials are the schoolhouse God uses to prepare us for living today and for eternity. Trials are a grace, friend. They’re hard, yes. They hurt, sure. But they are controlled by God. That’s a comfort. We have hope. He’s not trying to “kill us” or make our life miserable. His intentions are for your betterment and His glory. He desires to make us just like His Son, Jesus. What could be better than that? Who better to emulate?
What do you need to let go of or put on in order to be conformed in these needful trials to God’s will and the image of His dear Son, Jesus? Are you willing to do it? Let’s face it. Sometimes our flesh rules and we don’t listen to the Spirit’s still small voice prompting us. If you want to follow the Spirit more than your flesh, say “Yes, Lord” whenever you are prompted to obedience or are reminded of a convicting Bible verse.
Humble yourself. Be watchful and aware of whatever short chain Satan has you leashed to, be it unforgiveness, addictions, anger, laziness, whatever. Resist and persist.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10