During trials are we committed to God's will, regardless of the outcome?
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were definitely in the hot seat. The king had just given them an ultimatum—bow down or burn up! We know the story. We know the outcome. But have we given thought to their total commitment to God's will, and have we thought about how far we will trust God?
Three Little Words That Said Volumes
Notice their answer to the king; "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace... but if not..." (Daniel:3:17-18).
"But if not..." These three words spoke volumes about Daniel's friends' commitment to God's will. They knew God could deliver them, but they did not know if it was His will. What they did know was that, if God did not deliver them then, He would deliver them in the resurrection.
When tests and fiery trials come upon us, we pray for God to intervene. And when we pray, we are to ask for God's will (Matthew:6:10). But when God's will is different than our will, how do we handle it?
God Will Test Us and Allow Trials to Come on Us
Scripture is full of examples of God's people being tested. God says that it is through many trials that we will enter the Kingdom of God (Acts:14:22). Peter tells us to rejoice in trials so that our faith can grow, which will help us make it into God's Kingdom (1 Peter:1:6-9).
God has to know our hearts, and tests and trials help Him know what is in our hearts. The Bible says even Christ learned obedience through His trials (Hebrews:5:8).
God Himself tested Abraham. God knew that Abraham had an immense love for Isaac. But did Abraham love Isaac more than God? God had to know.
Think how much Abraham wrestled with the possibilities and questions during that three-day trip. Needless to say, he did not sleep well those nights.
But Abraham accepted God's will, even though his will was different. Abraham even concluded that God would resurrect Isaac so His promises would be fulfilled (Hebrews:11:17-19). God let Abraham go as far as lifting the knife to kill Isaac before He intervened. How far did Abraham trust God? All the way.
Sometimes we think we do not have exceptional faith like Abraham. But there was a time when Abraham's faith was not this strong. Several years earlier Abraham was worried that the Egyptians might take his wife, Sarah, from him because of her beauty. Instead of putting his total trust in God, Abraham was not totally honest about his relationship to Sarah (Genesis:12:10-20). Abraham did not trust God totally—he thought he had to deceive Pharaoh to save his wife. Yes, even the "father of the faithful" was weak in faith at times. But God worked with Abraham, and his faith grew. God works with us so our faith can grow too.
Similar Trials, Different Outcomes
All of us have been tested in keeping God's Holy Days. Many of us have lost jobs over the Sabbath. As a result, some have gotten better jobs; some have not. So why does God give one person a better job, and allow another person to be out of work for long periods of time because of their obedience?
To answer that, we must remember that each of us is unique. We all come from different walks of life. God wants to mold us to be like Him, and to do that requires different intensity and length of tests and trials, depending on our individual circumstances.
Some of us may spend a long time living with limited income to learn to really depend on God. Money and the accumulation of goods can become a stumbling block, and thus a trial, for others.
Often there are things we need to learn in our trials (Hebrews:12:11). We need to ask God to show us what we need to learn, so we can develop more godly character.
At times God is quick to intervene when we are new in the faith. He does this to encourage us. As we grow, God sometimes delays and limits intervention to strengthen our faith. As Paul said, "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans:5:3-4).
Joseph spent two years in prison waiting on God to deliver him. Yet, whenever bad things happened to him, Scripture records, "But the Lord was with Joseph" (Genesis:39:2, 21). When we are in trials, let's be patient and remember that God is with us. As James said, "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James:1:4).
God's will is for us to make it into His Kingdom, and that may require more tests for some, more severe trials for others. Our eyes tend to focus on the present, while God's eyes focus on the future. God's will is for us to learn from the experience, while our will is for the trial to end quickly. We need to place our total trust in God and wait on Him. As Isaiah said, "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength" (Isaiah:40:31).
Satan Wants Us to Doubt God
Some trials are very hard, seemingly too hard to bear. Some of God's people have lost loved ones, while others have lifelong health problems.
No matter how hard the trial, God promises that He will not test us more than we are able to bear (1 Corinthians:10:13). If we are not careful, hard trials can lead us to doubting God instead of trusting Him.
It is Satan who plants the seeds of doubt. When we have these doubts, we must draw closer to God. Otherwise the seeds can take root and can take us out of God's Church! Peter said, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter:5:8). And Satan will use a hard trial to try to devour us!
It was Satan who told God that Job only obeyed Him because God had blessed him physically (Job:1:9-11). So God allowed a hard trial to come on His righteous servant. And what happened in Job's mind is similar to what can go through our minds during hard trials.
At first Job's attitude was that God's will be done (Job:1:20-21). But as time went on, Satan planted a seed in Job's mind that God was unfair. Does this sound like us at times? We are seemingly strong at first, only to discover that we are weaker than we thought (1 Corinthians:10:12).
Job wrestled with events that happened in his life. Some of his friends said he must have sinned, and he couldn't understand all that had happened to him, since he was trying to obey God. Yes, at times we wrestle with these same thoughts in our trials. We think, "Why me?" But Peter tells us that we should not be surprised when hard trials come upon us (1 Peter:4:12). Trials are part of our Christian lives.
We know that Job persevered. Yes, even when he did not understand "why," Job still trusted God (Job:13:15). God blessed Job because he endured (James:5:11; Job:42:10-16). God will bless us when we endure.
God Will Strengthen Us
When trials overwhelm us, we sometimes wish we had not been called, or even been born! Many of God's faithful servants experienced the same thoughts. But God knows us better than we know ourselves. And God will give us the strength we need.
Three different times Paul asked God to remove his "thorn in the flesh." God denied those requests. Paul accepted God's will, and acknowledged he was made stronger by his infirmities (2 Corinthians:12:7-10).
Even Christ did not look forward to the horrendous death that awaited Him. With indescribably intense prayer He asked the Father if there could be another way. But He submitted to the Father's will. God sent angels to strengthen Him. God will do the same for us.
Yes, Christ understands what we go through—a lot more than we give Him credit for! And because of this, He makes intercession for us. And He has left us an example to let God's will be done, not ours.
Remember, Christ entrusted His eternity to the Father. We must do the same.
"Lord, Help My Unbelief!"
What if we lose our job over the Sabbath, and then lose our home? Will we trust God to provide? If a sudden tragedy occurs, will we trust God to see us through? What if we come down with a life-threatening illness? Will we seek God's will?
It is easy to answer these questions when we are not in these circumstances. But when hard trials come upon us, we can find ourselves like the father who replied to Christ's question of faith—"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark:9:23-24).
When our faith is weak, we need to ask God for strength. We need to ask for more of God's Spirit, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy:1:7). No, we cannot "work up faith"—it comes from God. God uses trials to help build strong faith. And strong faith will help us to trust God to the end, regardless of these consequences.
Many of God's faithful servants in the past sacrificed their lives for the same things we believe today. They accepted God's will over their will because they had total trust in Him. The same God we worship saved some, and allowed others to suffer, even die (Hebrews:11:32-40). Their faithfulness is recorded to encourage us. We can also grow in faith so our faithfulness can encourage others in the future.
David—a man who went through many trials—encourages us in Psalm:37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread."
Let's wait on God when we go through our fiery trials. Let's seek His will, not ours. He has our eternal happiness in mind, and He has promised to never leave us, even when our faith is weak (Hebrews:13:5-6; Psalm:103:10-14, 17-18).
As Paul said, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans:8:35, 38-39).
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
Yes, God's will is for us to make it into His Kingdom. So regardless of what trials come our way, let's put our total trust in Him to make it happen! UN