Have you ever reached a point where life seems to be getting the better of you? Well if you’ve ever felt like this, you’re not alone. The biblical character Job also knew what it feels like to be discouraged, with nowhere to turn. “Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant me the thing that I long for! That it would please God to crush me, that He would loose His hand and cut me off!” (Job 6:8 Job 6:8Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!
American King James Version×).
As human beings, we tend to blow small things out of proportion. Is God not the Creator and Sustainer of all life, and is He not in control and well aware of all things happening on earth? Of course He is! What’s more, God has promised to provide for us if we have put our trust in Him. Don’t make the mistake of limiting God.
The purpose of trials
Why must we go through trials if God knows we love Him and want to be in His Kingdom? God allows us to encounter trials for a reason. It’s not so He can see how far we’re able to be pushed before we break, but rather so we can grow in godly character.
God wants us to constantly seek Him and grow in His way of life, not stay where we are. We aren’t perfect, so obviously we need to change. Even if we were perfect, we would still go through trials. A good example of this is Jesus Christ, the only perfect man to ever live. He had more trials and temptations than we can ever imagine.
Think of the scenario in Luke 4. “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”’
“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve”’” (Luke 4:1-8 Luke 4:1-8 1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungry.
3 And the devil said to him, If you be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said to him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If you therefore will worship me, all shall be yours.
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, Get you behind me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is the ultimate master of self-control. God let His Son go through intense trials, like being tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, to set an example for us of what we are supposed to do when we encounter hard times and trials that really test our faith.
There are five basic tools that God has given us to cope with difficulty situations: prayer, Bible study, fasting, meditation and fellowship. All these tools can be used in a constructive manner toward success. The following are just some of the ways that these tools can be applied in your life.
Tool #1: prayer
God sees all and knows what’s going on in our life. We don’t pray to Him to let Him know what’s going on in our lives, but to build a relationship with Him. Take your own human father, for example. When you were a kid, you probably didn’t need to tell him that you had played a baseball game that day, but you talked about it anyway and as a result developed a stronger relationship with Him.
It’s also important to remember that God wants us to ask Him for the things we need in life. In Matthew 7:7-8 Matthew 7:7-8 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: 8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
American King James Version×Jesus encourages, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Tool #2: Bible study
Perhaps the reason we’re going through a certain trial is because there’s something God wants us to learn or something we need to change in our lives. Looking at God’s Word and making sure that we’re trying our best to put it into practice in our daily lives is important; we shouldn’t have contact with God and seek Him out only when things are going bad or we need something done.
Tool #3: fasting
Some trials can’t be solved by prayer alone, but require a greater sacrifice on our part. Consider the time when Christ’s disciples were unable to cast out a demon.
“And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Then Jesus answered and said, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.’
“And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting’” (Matthew 17:14-21 Matthew 17:14-21 14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for often he falls into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him here to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. 21 However, this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.
American King James Version×).
The attitude necessary for effective fasting is explained by God in Isaiah 58:3-12 Isaiah 58:3-12 3 Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors. 4 Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: you shall not fast as you do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then shall you call, and the LORD shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the middle of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon day: 11 And the LORD shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of you shall build the old waste places: you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
American King James Version×. If our focus is on others instead of ourselves, “then you shall call, and the LORD will answer” (verse 9).
Tool #4: meditation
Often during a trial we become so stressed and worried about the situation that we forget to just stop, take a deep breath and a good look at the situation. When we meditate on God’s Word and apply it to our situation, many times we can find the answer is right in front of our nose.
Tool #5: fellowship
Iron sharpens iron, so why not talk with your close fellow brethren about an issue they may have insight on? Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×emphasizes the necessity of spending time with the rest of God’s people. Perhaps they have advice for you; or perhaps they can pray, maybe even fast, for you. Simply being around other members can take a load off your shoulders.
So you see, trials are beneficial, whether we feel it when going through one or not. Trials will help us grow in godly character if we learn to use the tools our Father has provided us to have successful lives. We go through trials because God loves us. He wants us to come to Him and put our trust and problems in His hands.