Overcoming Life's Trials: A Survival Guide


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"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." Nahum 1:7

"God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world"- C.S. Lewis


"If God is good, why is there evil and suffering in the world?" "If God really loves me, why am I facing so much difficulty in my life?" "He was a good Christian, why did that happen to him?" We have all heard people ask these questions and at some point, most of us have asked them ourselves.

Walking with God we often think that if something is God's will, it will automatically happen. However, this is a very cavalier approach to faith. In fact, if something is part of God's plan for our lives, we will probably have to contend for it all the more. It is through much tribulation that we enter God's Kingdom (Acts 14:22). After all, we live in a fallen, sinful world (see Romans 8:17-26), and if you walk through a cow pasture long enough, you are eventually going to step in something!

Please understand, this is not a fatalistic message, nor is it intended to take away personal responsibility for our circumstances. Quite the opposite is true. When people spend their lives aimlessly drifting from crisis to crisis, never experiencing any breakthroughs or victories, that is often a sign of a deeper problem. In the words of that noted American philosopher, Charlie Brown: "That's the secret to life... replace one worry with another..." (1)

Faith is active, not passive. God wants us to face our difficulties with a bold, aggressive faith that refuses to be denied. I am about to make a statement that will be shocking to many of you: God is not moved simply by need. In Luke 4:25-29, Jesus referred to a time when a horrible famine was in the nation of Israel, but the only person who received help was a widow who fed the prophet (1 Kings 17:9). Another time, there were many in the land who suffered from leprosy, yet only one actually received divine healing (2 Kings 5:1-14). In both of these cases, it was not simply people's needs that moved God to respond, but it was how these people responded in the face of those needs that got His attention.

Often we spend our time begging God to do what He has already done. We ask, "Why doesn't God do something," when in fact, He has already done all He is going to do. When Jesus hung on Calvary's cross, all of the love and compassion that God's heart can hold was delivered to this planet in its fullness. His death bought back everything that the curse of sin had stolen from us (2). The price was paid so that every believer would have everything they need to live a victorious life.

Sometimes that victory may involve being instantly delivered from a difficult situation. However, the way out is often through. Jesus is not some genie which will simply take all of life's problems away with a rub of a magic lamp, and anyone who comes to Him with that expectation will be greatly surprised. . Jesus never said that following Him was always easy, and in fact, there are some things we will suffer specifically because of our relationship with Christ (3). He told us that as long as we live on this earth, we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer, He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! Not only that, He invites us to share in that victory as well!

However, there is no victory without struggle. If you are going to be an overcomer, there will be things you will have to overcome. Trials and tests are a necessary part of the Christian life. They reveal our character and the genuineness of our faith. Pressure shows us where our weak spots are. Jesus taught that if our faith fails during a trial it is because the Word of God has not taken root in our hearts (Luke 8:13). In fact, 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that the testing of our faith is more precious than gold which is tried and purified by fire. To the master refiner, the gold is only pure when he can see his reflection in it.

Often, our most difficult times turn out to be the very things that God uses to bring us into our destiny. For example, Joseph endured being sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), being falsely accused of a heinous crime (39:7-20), and many other horrible trials. However, he remained faithful to God, maintained his integrity and became one of the most powerful leaders in Egypt as a result (41:37-44). Similarly, Daniel's faithfulness in the face of the lion's den (Daniel 16:10-22) was the avenue for great blessing and promotion in his life as well (25-28). This gives us all the more reason to trust in the goodness of God in our suffering. He is the faithful Creator, and we are to commit the keeping of our souls to Him (1 Peter 4:19).

We will now take a look at how we apply these principles to our own lives. It has been said that when we do find ourselves facing trials, how we respond in the first few seconds will often determine success or failure. Following are some strategies which I have learned through my own study of the Scriptures, as well as my own personal life experiences. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it intended to be a set of "quick fix" solutions. Rather, look at it as a list of practical guidelines for learning from life's difficulties, as well as overcoming them.


2004 JHB

NOTES & BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1- Schultz, Charles M. from quotationspage.com. Publishing date unknown. http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Charles_M._Schulz/ 14 May, 2004.

2-This is the concept of Substitution and identification.For more on this, see our article The Cross: Violent Grace

3-This includes being persecuted (Matthew 5:10; 13:21), being rejected, sometimes even by our own families (Matthew 10:14, 21-36), being hated by the world (John 15:18-21).

4-For more on this, see our previous article The Church and You

5-If you need more information on a relationship with Jesus, see How to be Born Again If you would like to talk to someone one-on-one about your decision, call toll free 1-888-NEED-HIM (633-3446).



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