Trial, Testing, Truth And Triumph
The reason that Christians can have joy during times of trial, the testing of our faith, persecution, and suffering is because we have exceedingly great and precious promises that make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Instead of looking at our problems we are longing for His perspective, and so we learn to live prophetically. When we apply these promises God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit strengthens us to be able to not only endure but to triumph (Galatians 2:20 / 2 Corinthians 2:14 / Colossians 1:27).
Unfortunately, the idea that we as Christians can actually have joy in trials seems preposterous to most in the church today. We claim the Word of God as inerrant and infallible, yet we flinch when we read verses like James 1:2-3. My brethren count it all joy when you fall into diver’s temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Martin Luther said that if we fight valiantly on the entire battlefield, yet flinch in the one area where Satan is raging against us, then we do not confess Christianity no matter how loudly we profess Christianity. I wonder what he would say to those today whom fold “under the circumstances?”
Of course, no one is exempt from feeling the sting of sorry situations. The truth is that we must grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18), and learn to endure hardships like a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). It can be done, it has been done, and it must be done today in order for our witness to shine in trials and our will to submit to testing.
The Scriptures provide us not only the answers for how we are to cultivate this joy, but they also give us examples from the lives of those pictured in its pages. The imperatives of verses like 1 Peter 4:12-13 has been met with the indicatives, in this particular case verse 14, and so on. We must understand that in order to get God’s best you have to pass God’s test
Many try and try, but they fail to triumph. The question becomes, how can a Christian have joy during times of trial and testing and when suffering persecution? The reason is we reckon
. We reckon, or consider, something to be more valuable than the thing we are going through. We have strength when we realize, or cash in, on the idea that we are going to receive something for our efforts. It is not really about earning, but about learning to live with God during any circumstance. We go from revelation to realization, from seeing it to being it
David, in the 23rd Psalm, points us to this beautifully. He had been promised the kingdom of Israel, and had gotten it, only to have it wrested away again by his own son Absalom. However, even in the valley he prophetically saw the Lord as his means of sustenance. In spite of his circumstance, David was counting on the promises of God, and his faith foreshadows Peter’s promise to the New Testament Christian that God is not slack concerning His promises (2 Peter 3:9), whether they be the promise of His Second Coming or His coming in our lives to fulfill His Word.
This kind of reckoning is what we need in the church today. When David was in “the valley of the shadow of death”, all he could physically see were the shrubs of sorrow and the sands of suffering. He knew, however, that God was with Him, it was the Great Shepard that helped him to fear no evil. His comfort wasn’t his position or his power it was His presence. He reckoned that although he was seeing bad times that goodness and mercy were right behind, would catch up, and that no matter what, he would dwell in the House of the Lord forever. He had a prophetic, not a pathetic faith that understood the bottom line.
The crisis of circumstance should lead us to the Lord and His great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). God is in control, and he sets the boundaries of our lives. Sometimes suffering is because of our own sin, but sometimes it is God’s will (1 Peter 4:19). This is part of the deal, as it were (Philippians 1:29). When we are able to live for God in our boundaries, then God will let us see beyond them. This is how we can have joy during times of trial, the testing of our faith, persecution, and suffering: we learn to live prophetically
In Romans 8:18 Paul reckons that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” He was speaking of our final state, but indeed, we can have some of this glory right here and now. Peter tells us that if we are reproached for the name of Christ the spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:14). Paul told Timothy that godliness has promise of the life that now is, and of the life to come when talking about persecution (1 Timothy 4:8-10). Consider also Paul’s admonitions about suffering in 2 Corinthians 4:6-18, 11:23-27, and 12:10.
It is all about where you place your worth. The Scriptures are replete with examples who reckoned on the promises of God as more important than what they were currently going through. Abraham was severely tested with Isaac, but he reckoned God could or would bring back his son from death and fulfill His promise (Hebrews 11:17-19).
The Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:41). The people they witnessed to rejoiced and the church grew under heavy persecution (Acts 13:48-52). Paul knew by the Holy Ghost and also prophets that he was doomed if he went back to Jerusalem, but he happily went anyway (Acts 20 and 21).
The Apostle Paul’s bottom line mentality (1 Corinthians 15:55-58) mirrors and even eclipses that of Job in the Old Testament (Job 13:15, 19:23-27) in that Paul actually was looking forward to death. He said that to live was Christ and to die was gain. (Philippians 1:21-24). He knew and wrote about the truth that nothing is going to separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
We can use these biblical examples to help us through hard times (Romans 15:4). They prove to us that we can do it too. True Christians are still reckoning on God’s promises today. Joni Eareckson Tada says that no one can enter Christ’s heaven who hasn’t tasted Christ’s suffering. Every true Christian will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), but if we suffer we will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Suffering makes us joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and it allows us to participate in the fellowship of his sufferings, which gives us a taste of the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10).
The bottom line is that Jesus said we are going to go through hard times, and that we are not to fear what man can do, or even what Satan would have them do (Matthew 10:22-28). We need to let others see the power of God living through us (Galatians 2:20). Our fear of God will carry us through. In considering all of this I reckon that by his stripes we are healed, and by our stripes he is revealed
“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©
Labels: Devotional, Think About It