Trials and Faith

One of the momentous events in our lives is when we get our driver’s license. It represents freedom and maturity. It says to the world I am licensed to drive and control an automobile. We can easily conclude that we control the vehicle, however that control is not complete. It can be taken away in an instant by another car swerving into our path, a flat tire, a really bad pothole, a puddle of water, the failure of our brakes or steering, etc. We can lose control in an instant. Recognizing our lack of power is part of the humility that we should all have as Christians (James 4:6, 10).

Our control of things in this world is illusory. In Ephesians 2:2, Satan is called the prince of the power of the air and following him is called ‘walking according to the course of this world’. Satan controls much of what happens in worldly terms. In like manner, GOD controls heaven, salvation, and what Hebrews 6:5 calls ‘the powers of the age to come’. Consider the nature of our struggle in this world. Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We do well to remember the powers that surround us.

It is easy to forget that other powers have great impact in our lives. When things are going well, we may have an illusion of control. We may think that we are the masters of our circumstances. We are not. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, or riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” We can choose our eternal destiny, but we cannot choose every circumstance that comes to us in life. We do not know or control what trials enter our lives.

When trials come, they remind us that we are not in control of so many things. Howevr, we can and should have self-control. But we can only control how we respond to conditions in the world around us. We can’t control those conditions consistently and sometimes not at all. We can always choose to strive to have self-control.

The more I try to control things, the more I try to make it work by my own strength alone, then the worse it gets. I don’t have the power to control all things and by my own strength, I swill struggle even to maintain self-control. I think this is Paul’s point in Romans 7:19 “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” My friends, it is hard to do right and we need GOD’s help.

The best thing we can do, as an act of faith, is to truly let go, stop striving in your own strength, and give control to the Lord, and trust. This is the basis of self-control, relying on GOD’s help. Romans 8:8-10 “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” With HIS help we can face and endure any trial. This is a fundamental aspect of our faith in GOD. We trust that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).

It seems so simple, but in practicality I find it a hard thing to do. Therefore, I pray for the grace and the wisdom to let go and to stop depending on myself.

A true and strong faith teaches us how to redefine earthly trials as heavenly opportunities. They can be blessings in our lives since: they test our faith (James 1:3), they produce steadfastness in our lives (1 Peter 5:9), and they enable us to become mature persons (James 1:4). There is nothing pleasant about trials and one of our most common requests in prayer is to avoid and overcome such hardships. Yet every trial becomes an opportunity for growth in faith and steadfastness.

How should we respond to our trials. The attitude of the apostles is instructive here in Acts 5:41. “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” The Bible explicitly tells us to follow that example in James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” It may be hard to do, but we should not resent them. Many with challenged faith find this a time to blame GOD for trials. It may take them some time to overcome that resentment and trust GOD again. Some may never come back GOD unless or until HE removes all hardships. However, these attitudes are destructive to our faith. We should not blame GOD for the trials that Satan places in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:7).

One Christian response to trials is to pray for GOD to remove them. If HE leaves us in our trials, we should next ask GOD for the grace to accept them and reveal to us what HE wants us to learn from them. This may necessitate a difficult road. I often pray to GOD to teach me the lessons I need. But I am quick to add, “LORD, let me learn them the easy way.”

Unfortunately, we often fail to learn what we need to know the easy way. That only leaves a harder path. Remember the messages of the book of Ecclesiastes. There it seems even Solomon in all his wisdom had learn most lessons the hard way. Maybe this is why we need the reminder of James 1:2. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

You’re not in control, but count it all joy, knowing that the testing of faith produces patience.

Dr. J. L. Edwards

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