Believers are not exempt from trial or trouble. We wish it were true. We’d like to believe Christianity is a magic potion that protects us from illness, disappointment, financial loss, or accidents, but it does not. How can Christians have hope when others do not? Ten thoughts follow:
- Believers can rejoice for God provides a “Helper” (John 14:26), an Advocate (1 John 2:1), and His promise that “He will never leave nor abandon [His people]” (Hebrews 13:5). God does not release us from of every troubling situation, but He promises to stand with us, and comfort us, and help us through the trials of life.
- Believers can rejoice because God extends unbelievable forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love. I am very glad God extends His grace to (perhaps, especially to) the willful—even to those who bring trouble upon themselves. 2 Timothy 2:13 notes: “Even when we are faithless, He [God] remains faithful…” God welcomes the prodigal. God loves the sinner. God is always just a prayer away. Believers are not exempt from suffering but, by God’s grace, are upheld through it if we turn to Him and take hold of His hand.
- Believers can know that God imparts strength and a supernatural peace to those in trial. God does not play hide and seek with His people. If you seek Him, you will find Him (Jer. 33:3, Jer. 29:12).
- Believers must strive to have the right perspective. In this life we will experience tribulation (John 16:33). But remember, the difficulties you face or sacrifices you make during life on earth will not compare to the glorious riches that await in heaven. Suffering and injustice hurts and is often unavoidable. Remembering that our short-term pain will soon be overshadowed by long-term bliss helps.
- Believers must persevere. Push through the moment and overcome trials rather than being overcome by them. Scripture notes that in the last days, believers should expect more difficulties—not more comfort (Luke 21:12-18).
- Believers must expect oppression to increase: Evil is on the rise. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a witness for the Lord without consequence. Those who hold conservative Christian views and witness for the Lord will lose jobs, promotions, and earthly rewards. Oppression in many forms is already here—and things will get worse. Be mentally and spiritually prepared. Scripture notes we are “not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil…[by doing] good” (Romans 12:21).
- Believers must stay focused on the positive: Satan is an expert at attacking your mind (2 Cor. 10:4-5). If he can distract and discourage you, he can defeat you, meaning, he can keep you from effectively accomplishing your God-given commission to be a witness. Believers must guard the mind by focusing on the glory and meaning of salvation (Eph. 6:17a) and “take captive every [negative]…thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Paul said it well in Philippians 4:8: “…whatever istrue, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about [focus on] these things.”
- Believers must remember the stakes are incredibly high: Too many approach their spiritual walk like an informal scrimmage game rather than an epic championship match. Satan does not want youto be serious about your calling and spiritual walk. But Satan is dead serious about wanting to harm you. He does want to annoy you—he desires to destroy you. He hates all that God loves, blesses, and uses for His glory, and that includes you. Therefore, be on guard. Peter warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
- Beware, fire is hot—don’t touch it: Do not flirt with temptation. Satan is a master deceiver; stay well clear of him. Do not try to see how close you can get to the world and sin without getting caught or giving in. We are warned to flee [RUN!] from youthful lusts or temptations (2 Timothy 2:22). Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Don’t let Satan have an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27).
- Expect God to test you: Testing may appear to be negative, but the truth is, believers are made better, wiser, and stronger by testing. James 1:2-4 notes: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There is a reason the last days are marked by difficulties and challenges; Satan is working overtime – he knows these are the last days too. He’s working harder than ever before. Revelation 12:12b note: But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil…is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Watchmen, remain prayerful, focused, and ready to be tested. Don’t slow down, don’t give up, don’t give in. Times can be very difficult, but blessed are they who embrace the challenge to shine bright and finish well.
Noted below is a live worship-hour teaching from IAAW team member, Gary Ray. It is titled, If God is Good, Why Do Bad Things Happen?
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