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The 16 Words

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The 16 Words

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So, here you are, battling a sore trial and one thing after another is going wrong and nothing seems to be going right. Most of your friends don’t seem very concerned and those who try to help, aren’t really helping. You pray, asking God, “Why must I endure this terrible dilemma?”

It’s nearly certain that every true Christian will face a highly distressful situation of some kind sooner or later. For some, it could be a severe health crisis while others might confront a financial, marriage or an employment travail. Still others may have to fight loneliness, depression, a major character weakness or some other troubling issue. During such struggles words may be uttered such as, “Nobody cares and even God doesn’t seem to take notice of my hardship!” How do I know this? Because it was how I felt at one point during a long unemployment trial I dealt with many years ago.

Facing and handling inevitable trials

But, does expressing such negative feelings in trying times mean a Christian has failed in his or her quest to love and trust God and live by the faith of Jesus Christ? The answer is no. While our trials are certainly real and often very stressful, they are not unique and our reactions to them can be similar to others who preceded us in the faith (1 Corinthians 10:13). For example, when King David encountered traumatic situations, he sometimes voiced frustrations—even questioning God’s power, love and mercy. He said, “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:7-9). So, just as some of God’s people in bygone generations became edgy, irritated and impatient, it can and does happen today.

But why does God sometimes leave His devoted servants in major trials for extensive periods of time? While He certainly could stop them instantly, why doesn’t He? The Bible provides answers to these questions which involve our Creator’s desire not only to teach us vital lessons but for Him to discover what is in the depth of our hearts. In this regard, when considering the tremendous power and authority He will give us as spirit beings in His future Kingdom, He must know in advance and without reservation that we will remain unalterably loyal and obedient to Him under all circumstances, even unto death (Revelation 12:11). Furthermore, God permits troubles in our lives so we can plainly see our faults and weaknesses so that we can “go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1). And, it is His desire that we develop indispensable character qualities, such as the habit of waiting patiently and faithfully for His aid (Romans 5:3-4). Everything He does is designed to fortify us so we will be able to believe and act on 16 important words when we undergo trials.

Remaining faithful at our weakest point

In scripture God explains that He will supply the help we need to endure any hardship or persecution (James 1:2-4). But, how can we be assured that a trial experienced at a vulnerable time in our lives won’t cause our spiritual defeat? In examining this from a positive perspective, if God sees that we will remain faithful at our weakest point, won’t He then have confidence that we will always be faithful? Again, reflect on how King David felt besieged and beleaguered at times—but he never gave up on God (Psalm 143:3). Also, the apostle Paul encountered tremendous distress—perhaps to the very limits of his endurance—but he did not abandon His Creator or His way of life (2 Corinthians 1:8). But why? Because both of these men understood and applied the essence of the 16 words.

But how about us? What if God allowed Satan to trouble us in some way? Perhaps the devil would try pressuring us to believe that we are incapable of bearing up under great pressure. But advocating such a notion would be nothing more than a blatant lie since God doesn’t call anyone to failure! Rather, He is fully committed to our success and has promised to always be by our side (Isaiah 41:10). He will provide everything we need to overcome any obstacle and have the spiritual strength to deflect all of the devil’s flaming arrows (Romans 8:31-32; Ephesians 6:16). So, when we exercise faith in God and His great power, we can watch how He works out the details in resolving our distressful situation. He may change circumstances—or He may not—but whenever and however He decides to act, we will ultimately be blessed because we love and trust Him completely (Psalm 28:7).

Don’t wait until trouble comes!

We read earlier how the apostle Paul endured extremely difficult trials. Similarly, consider our Savior Jesus Christ who encountered unimaginable suffering and yet, left us an indelible example of faith under fire (1 Peter 4:12-13). He did this for us. Why? “Lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3, emphasis added throughout). If we think about that when we are under duress, we will be more than confident that God will absolutely support and strengthen us (1 Peter 4:1-2). All of this involves our willingness to believe and apply the 16 words.

Of course, any trial could be a stumbling block if we let it! Consequently, we must stay close to God in prayer and saturate our minds with His Word while continually stirring up His Spirit within us—just as Jesus did (John 7:38). In this regard, we should never wait until trouble comes to try drawing near to God (James 4:8)! Rather, we should be committed to praying daily and thanking Him constantly for His love and unending support through His Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:6).

The patriarch Job’s faithful example

But again, it can sometimes seem as if the situation we face is simply too much to bear. In this case, imagine what the biblical patriarch Job experienced. God allowed Satan to torment him severely and as a result, he lost all of his children and all of his wealth in a single day (Job 1:13-19). Shortly afterward he lost his health when the devil afflicted him with ghastly boils all over his body (Job 2:7). But, why did Job undergo these dreadful trials? Was he a terrible sinner who refused to repent? Not at all! In fact, Job 1:1 says he “was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.”

But at first, Job suffered appalling losses and immediately after hearing about them, he made a highly significant statement. He said in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.” He went on to say the following 16 words, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” These 16 words sum up what we need to believe and act upon in faith when we encounter our own trials. Just like Job, who recognized that God was in absolute control and trusted Him unconditionally, we should do the same.

16 words express what we should do

Finally, God gives us all good things (1 Timothy 6:17) and yet, sometimes He allows them to be taken away in order to teach us important lessons and test our faithfulness and obedience. Therefore, let’s never give up on Him or His way of life due to sore trials. Rather, let’s fully honor and rely on Him—being absolutely confident that He will always love, aid and support us (Hebrews 13:5). So, when we encounter troubling events let’s be ready to say and firmly believe these 16 words: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”