God’s people endure many trials—some of which are highly stressful and last for long periods of time. When you encounter such troubles, will you be able to say and believe sixteen words?
[Mr. John LaBissoniere]: Thank you very much Lisa, Heather and I did appreciate that very much. It’s always wonderful to be able to come and hear special music. For so many years we were down in Tennessee and it was a rare treat we get to hear that each week here, so again, thank you very much. Well good Sabbath, good afternoon to everyone. I’m your fill in today for Mr. Mark Welch, who’s not feeling too well. But let’s hope he’s going to feel better tomorrow. He’s got a couple busy weeks ahead I understand, so if you want to say a little, couple prayers for him that would be much appreciated. But you’re going to have to endure me for one more day. But I want to say hello to all those on the web today – the webcast. You know again as I mentioned last week, we know a lot of people that are watching are not feeling well. So, our prayers go out to you and we know that God appreciates your effort to be here with us today. So again we thank you for that and we appreciate it very much as well.
Sixteen words – just sixteen words. The question is: Will you be able to say those words?
There you are, battling a sore trial, and one thing after another seems to be going wrong and nothing seems to be going right. You ask, “Why me? Why me?” And you wonder if you’re the only one dealing with this type of turmoil. It seems as if no one is plagued with this distress. While most of your friends don’t seem to be that concerned, and those who are don’t seem to be helping very much. You pray to God, saying, “Why are you allowing this to happen to me? Why? Can’t you do something?”
Well, perhaps you’ve felt that way a time or two in the past. Certainly, every Christian, sometime or another, is going to face that type of situation. For some, it could be a health problem. For others it might be financial, it might be marriage – a problem with the marriage some way. How about an employment challenge? Still others fight loneliness, depression, maybe a major character weakness, or some other troubling issue. One question may arise during such a personal struggle is “What did I do to deserve this?” That question can sometimes be followed by the statement: “Nobody seems to care.” – As I mentioned earlier. “Nobody seems to care. And even God doesn’t seem like He’s taking notice of my hardship.”
How is it that I know this? Well, because this is exactly how I felt many years ago when I was enduring an employment trial. In fact, I vividly recall where I was and what I said – which were some of those very words I mentioned – in the darkest days of that particular trial. It lasted almost five years. It was difficult. And at that time, nobody seemed to care. And it seemed as if God Himself had turned His back on me. It wasn’t a good feeling.
But the question arises when any of us voice such thoughts: Does it mean we’ve failed? We’ve failed in our quest to love God and to trust Him fully and live by the faith of Jesus Christ? The answer is no. It’s no. It simply shows that we’re not unlike any other of God’s servants down through time who voiced frustrations like that.
Now, our trials are certainly very real, and often very stressful. But you know they’re not unique. They’re not unique and our reactions to them are similar to those of others who have gone before us. It doesn’t necessarily make us feel any better, does it at the time? But we’re not unique in that.
For example – you don’t need to turn to the next four scriptures I’ll read – just listen here. 1 Peter 5:9 says, “The same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” – same sufferings. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – this is from the NET Bible – it say, “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful. He will not let you down. He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear. But with the trial, will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” Acts 14:22, says – and we’ve read these many times: “…we must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” And Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
Now, if you would turn with me to Lamentations – the book of Lamentations – the book immediately after Jeremiah. Throughout history, God’s loyal, obedient people, like yourselves, have suffered hard trials, have endured distress, have had physical pain, and endured mental anguish – down through time. The prophet Jeremiah was one of those. He says here, in Lamentations 3:1 – listen to this:
Lamentations 3:1 – “I am a man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath” – talking about God. And in verse 7, he goes on – he says, talking about God: “He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out. He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry and shout He shouts out my prayer.” Verse 17: “You have moved my soul far from peace. I have forgotten prosperity. And I said, ‘My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD.’”
So, he went through it, didn’t he? He felt it deeply right inside.
The subject of today’s sermon is about trials. You can imagine – trials. But it’s also about sixteen important words. The question is for you and me: Are we going to be able to say those words? That’s the sermon title – “The Sixteen Words.”
Let’s go to Psalms 77:2, if you would. Like Jeremiah, King David also faced ordeals and he became perturbed. He became frustrated. He was down in the dumps, as we like to say. He even faced a loss of confidence. Psalms 77:2 – it says – David writes:
Psalms 77:2 – “In the day of my trouble I sought the LORD. My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing. My soul refused to be comforted.” Verse 7 – look at this: “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more?” Verse 8: “Has His mercy ceased forever?” Look at these questions he’s asking here. “Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” You can see where he’s coming from. It was tough!
Yes, some of God’s greatest servants have become impatient during difficult trials – became edgy, became irritable. And they even temporarily lost faith. Some, as David did, began questioning God’s power and His concern, and His care and His mercy. So, if it happened in the past to God’s people, it can and does happen today. And we probably have some people online right now who are maybe feeling a little bit of that, because especially when you’re feeling ill, it can really get to you. It can take down your attitude very quickly.
But an important question still looms before us: Why does God sometimes lead us in these major trails for an extended period of time? Why? Why does He do that? Since God is all powerful, He certainly could pull us out the trial instantly, if He wanted to. Why doesn’t He? Why do some trials seemingly go on and on and on? Well, the Bible provides reasons why Christians encounter these and other adversities. So, let’s take a look at some of them today. These are designed to help us learn important lessons. And God is the best teacher, right? I mean, He loves to teach. And we’re here as students. So, He’s teaching us every time we come to services. We try to learn and we study the Bible on our own. We’re trying to learn. It’s an important point that God is trying to make – that we are in His hands. We’re in His hands! And also, God wants to know something else. He wants to know what we’re made of. He really does. After we received and accept God’s truth, and repent of sin, and are baptized, God wants to know if we’re going to continue in this for the long haul. We’re not going to bail out, are we? He wants to know that. He’s got to find that out. He wants to know if we’re remain loyal and obedient no matter what. So, with the tremendous power that He’s going to give us as spirit beings in His future Kingdom, He must know, in advance and without reservation that we’re not going to bail out. We’re not going to falter. He’s got to know that before He allows us in His Kingdom.
So, God is investing a lot in us, isn’t He? A lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of love – training us for high positions as kings and priests in His Kingdom – His government. So, He’s got to know if we’re going to be loyal all the way through. So, He’s going to test it. He’s going to test our loyalty. He’s going to test our dependability, our commitment.
Over the years, in talking to church members – I’ve been around 50 – almost 50 – years now baptized. And I’ve talked to a lot of church members. And some were not confident that they would be able to endure difficult trials and survive spiritually. They just weren’t confident about that. How about you? How about you? Do you wonder if you will remain faithful during challenging times? Well, we can be confident. We can be confident and have absolutely no doubt that we will not only survive, but we will flourish. We can be confident about that. Why? Because we have the ear of our heavenly Father. He loves to hear from us. And even as the ancient patriarchs and prophets were pretty bold in their statements toward Him, He wants to know what’s in our hearts. He wants to hear what we’re feeling. So you don’t have to worry about that. He’s heard it all, hasn’t He, in the past? So, we have to maintain that contact with God through prayer – constantly. Plus, we have this wonderful gift – the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit that provides the power that we need to be successful through our spiritual journey all the way through.
So, since trials and tests will come our way, we will need to be ready, willing and able to stand and say and believe the sixteen words. Let’s go to Deuteronomy 8:2, if you would. It’s important to know that God’s method of checking us out, you might say – checking out His people – is not new when we read how He worked with people in ancient Israel. Here in Deuteronomy 8:2, we read this:
Deuteronomy 8:2 – “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to” – what does it say? – “to humble you and test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you will keep His commandments or not.” That scripture says it all. It really does. God wanted to know what His chosen people would do – if they would follow Him unequivocally – then, and He wants to know now. The same thing.
Let’s go to Hebrews 12:6, if you would. Just as a good parent will properly correct a child, God does the same thing with us. And He does it out of deep love and concern. That’s the way we treat our children, right? We love them. So, we have to correct them sometimes. I know my dad did a lot of that in the past – when I was young. I still remember what that paddle felt like at this point. But I certainly learned. My dad had a really hard bang, you know. He wanted me to remember it. Here in Hebrews 12:6, it says:
Hebrews 12:6 – “For whom the LORD loves, He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives.” Every son, every daughter. Verse 9: “Furthermore, we had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they, indeed, for a few days chastened us as it seemed best for them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” – That future in His Kingdom.
Let’s go to Hebrews 10:35 – back up a couple chapters. So, how should we respond? We see the answer here in Hebrews 10:35. How should we respond?
Hebrews 10:35-36 – “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”
So, sometimes, God permits these major trials that seem to go on a long time so we can see something about ourselves. We’re blind humanly. We just don’t see it all, do we? So God’s going to get our focus onto something. And He does that so we can – as it says in Hebrews 6:1 – go on to perfection. That’s what He’s after. He wants us to be perfect. Are we going to get that way in this life? No. But we’re moving in that direction.
In addition, God, at times, wants us to endure faithfully, in demanding circumstances, so as to teach others about God’s existence and authority. For example, let’s briefly consider the patriarch Daniel’s sore trial. Daniel believed so fervently in daily prayer that he took issue with the royal Persian command that barred citizens from petitioning any other god other than the king for a month. Daniel 6:22, if you’d go there. Now, we’re not going to read the full story, but Daniel continued worshiping God. And as a result, he was sentenced to be thrown into a den of fierce lions – not a very pleasant situation, obviously. But God showed something. He showed His awesome, miraculous power by sending an angel to shut the mouths of the lions – protecting Daniel. And what was that for? It was to witness to the king – a powerful witness to the king. Here in Daniel 6:22, Daniel says to the king:
Daniel 6:22-23 – “‘My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him. And also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.’ Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den.” So, Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatsoever was found on him, because he believed in God. This events so humbled the powerful, pagan king that he told all his subjects that they needed to fear the God of Daniel. Look how God used Daniel to influence a king and an entire nation.
So, it’s valuable to recall Daniel’s example when we faithfully endure a difficult trial and what our example does – under distress – what impact it has on other brethren. How about relatives and friends and neighbors, fellow workers? So, there may be a reason for that. Besides, maybe, God teaching you something, but there’s maybe something others have to know, and you get to be their teacher. How’s that? The important thing is that our example of faithfulness and calmness under fire gives God an opportunity to show those others that not only does He exist, but He can intervene in the lives of people.
Now, another reason why God permits us to encounter difficult trials, long-lasting trials, is to instill in us the vital character quality of waiting. “I want patience and I need it now!” – You know the old story. Waiting for God’s answer.
Romans 5:3 – this is New Living Translation. You don’t need to turn there. I’ll just read it.
Romans 5:3-4 – “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials. For we know that they help us to develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character. And character strengthens our confident hope in salvation.”
So, it’s all good. All these things are good. All of this fortifies and encourages us, so we are able to act on the sixteen words. Furthermore, we know that the Bible prophesies terrible times lay ahead for our world. It’s going to come increasingly sinful and blasphemous in our society.
You don’t need to turn here, but 2 Timothy 3:3, says that “people will be unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,” and it goes on and on, doesn’t it? You’ve read that passage. I encourage you to watch a Beyond Today program. My wife and I watched it last night – Smyrna – Faith Under Fire, by Mr. McNeely. It was excellent. He was talking about – Smyrna, of course, was one of the churches of old – he was talking about how Jesus admonished the people in that church congregation to maintain faithfulness in the midst of suffering. There’s an application for what’s ahead for us as well. So, the trials we’re going through now are going to be a foundation that we are having for what’s ahead. We don’t know what God has in store for us, but persecution could be in the future. So, God wants to know if we’re going to stand strong. He wants to toughen us up spiritually as well. 2 Timothy 2:3 says,
2 Timothy 2:3 – “We are to endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.”
And, as mentioned before, God will supply the support that we need to be able to endure any hardship or any persecution in the future as well. Therefore, knowing this, we can, as James 1 says, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Now, most likely, we won’t outwardly rejoice at such times, will we? It’s like, “Yeah! Give me another trial!” No, it’s not like that. We don’t go that way. But it gives us this inner confidence that we need – this contentment – deep faith that is growing in us. We know that. We understand that. That’s why we can be joyful in those times. And again, this all has to do with the sixteen words.
As I mentioned earlier, some church members are not confident that they will be able to handle tough times and survive spiritually. Again, do you worry about a trial like that – that you won’t be able to handle? How can you know that a trial at a vulnerable time will not trip you up? How can you know?
Let’s look at this from a different point of view. Let’s look at it from a positive point of view for a moment. If God sees that you will remain faithful at your weakest point, won’t He then know you will always be faithful? So, when you’re weak and you survive this, you go through it, you tough it out, you know God’s building something in you, God is really pleased with that, and He’s saying, “Boy, that guy’s one more step toward my Kingdom.” – or that woman or that young person.
Psalm 143:3, if you would turn there. God tested many people in their weakest points. Consider what King David actually faced when he felt overwhelmed when he was under great trials. Imagine this kind of stress here. Let’s read about that in Psalm 143:3,
Psalm 143:3-4 – “For the enemy has persecuted my soul. He has crushed my life to the ground. He has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have been long dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me. My heart within me is distressed.” That’s David saying that. He felt beleaguered. He felt besieged. But one thing he didn’t do was give up. He didn’t do that. He didn’t go there – didn’t even understand that. But he did understand the sixteen words.
Another example of God testing His servants at their weakest point: let’s look at the words of the apostle Paul when he was harassed and under stress. Do we sometimes feel, as Paul did when he wrote this? I’ll just read this to you – 2 Corinthians 1:8.
2 Corinthians 1:8 – “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia – that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we even despaired of life.” How bad was that? Imagine that. I don’t think any of us have experienced anything like that. But God was testing Paul to his very limits. That’s what He was doing.
Now, was God fair to do that? Some people may think He wasn’t. Could Satan work on us that way some day? Could God permit that? The devil wants to get us to think that God is not fair. He hates us so much. He’s going to do whatever it takes to get us out of the Church of God. He may, in effect, get us to say, “Oh, this is too harsh. This is too difficult. It’s overbearing. I can’t bear up under such pressure.” That’s what he wants us to say and think. “Listen,” Satan may figuratively say, “God isn’t even listening to you anymore!” But you know that’s not true – not true at all. God doesn’t call a person to become a failure. Rather, He is committed to our success. If He has called you, He’s called me, there’s no question we can make it. No question. We know we can be successful because God has promised us that we would be. Do we believe God? That’s the question. Do we believe what God said? Consider what He says here in 2 Corinthians 4:17 – this is from the New Living Translation. I’ll just read it for you.
2 Corinthians 4:17 – “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.” That’s how God looks at it – when we look at eternity, right? It’s how He looks at it. “Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So, we don’t look at the troubles we see now. Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” Paul wrote that.
Let’s go to Hebrews 13:5. Sometimes our focus is on our present distress, right? I mean, it’s natural because we’re human beings. And it’s not our ultimate goal… we don’t even think about some things beyond that. It’s hard to do that when we’re really suffering. So God wants to know that we will believe in Him and walk with Him sincerely and serenely in righteousness, knowing that He has our backs. He’s always going to support us – no question. Hebrews 13:5,
Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conduct be without covetousness. Be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’” Who said that? Jesus did. “So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
Will we cling to that statement when we face a major ongoing trial? It might be in your future. We don’t know. We don’t know what God has in store of each of us. But He wants us in His Kingdom.
Romans 8:31, if you’d go there. God will provide everything we need to survive any obstacles, any hurdle, any barrier we encounter. Romans 8:31,
Romans 8:31 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Christ is there with the Father. And They’re there for you. They’re there for me. But then, wait a minute, what about the brethren that failed in the past? We know that’s happened? Were their trials too difficult for them? Did God let them down somehow?
Isaiah 55: 8, if you’d go there. Let’s remember that God didn’t promise that trials wouldn’t seem to be more than we could bear. They seem that way, but they aren’t. Oftentimes, we will not immediately see an escape route. And we’re trying to get out of that thing, right? – If we can. We can’t always grasp why God allows these troubles to happen to us. Isaiah 55:8 says,
Isaiah 55:8 – “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
So, God has something in mind for all of us in the future. He’s got a plan. He knows where He wants us to fit in His family – in the Kingdom of God in the future. So He’s working it out. He’s finding a way. He trying to find if we’re going to fit in that spot. Sometimes, God’s goal is not to quickly intervene in a trial. And it’s not apparent to us what He is doing. We just don’t understand. We hope He’s going to do that. We pray about that. But sometimes, people give up. They can’t see beyond their nose, maybe. That’s why some people have bailed in the past. They feel they’re in too much pressure. But what is the real problem? Some have simply not trusted God – His promise that He won’t let them down. They failed because they didn’t believe God.
But we can believe Him? We can. God gives us His promises. He gives us the power we need to be spiritually victorious. He can provide us a robust spiritual mind, so that we can resist the darts of worry and panic fired by Satan the devil. He wants us to get all upset and bail out. That’s what he wants to do.
2 Timothy 1:7 says,
2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.”
So, if we’re determined to believe in and obey God, He will provide a way out. He’ll find a way of escape for us – through our trials. Of course, we’d like to think that escape will be easy. However, when we don’t see an easy escape, or our trial seemingly goes on forever, we may begin to doubt a little bit. When we meditate excessively – we may even be doing this – meditate excessively on how to get out of this trial that could be a sure way to destroy faith. Maybe it’s time to just live with it, pray about it, put it in God’s hands, ask people to pray about it with you, and let Him work it out. But if we are so anxious to get out of this, and that’s all we think about, maybe we’re destroying faith. We don’t want to do that either.
So, what is the key to dealing with our troubles? Again, it’s full reliance on our great Creator – the Master of the universe, the Creator of all things. We’ve got to do our part, but we’ve got to let God work His work in us. He may change circumstances, or He may not. But through any trial, we can endure it. All this involves our willingness to say and believe the sixteen words.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 1:8, if you would. We read verse 8 earlier, which revealed how the apostle Paul was burdened beyond measure, as he said. Let’s read it once again, and this time, let’s read the next two verses after that. Those verses explain that the end result was that God fulfilled His pledge. We’ll see that. Let’s read that again. 2 Corinthians 1:8,
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 – “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came upon us in Asia – that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength so that we despaired even of life.” Verse 9: “We had the sentence of death in ourselves” – Why? Look at the next word – “that” – this is why – “that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” That’s why they went through this. That’s why Paul had to endure it. “Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us, in who we trust that He will still deliver us.”
Let’s go to Hebrews 12:2, if you would. In the same thread, what about our Savior, Jesus Christ? Consider how He suffered what was unimaginable – such punishment – and it left an indelible example of total faith and endurance, and how He used the Holy Spirit to get through all that.
Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and” – what does it say here? “Finisher” – yeah, He’s going to see you through. He’s going to finish it. He’s going to help you – “Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and He sat down at the right of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself” – now look at the next word – little four-letter word – “lest you become weary” – think about Jesus Christ. When you’re in the midst of your trial, that’s where you want to go. You want to go where Jesus went – “lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” So, think about Jesus Christ. Think about Paul. Think about these things when you’re in the midst of all these difficulties and they seem to be going on and on.
We need to depend on Jesus Christ as our greatest example of spiritual fortitude and faith.
Romans 1:17, says – I’ll read it for you:
Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” So, that’s what we’ve got. We’ve got faith. We’ve got Jesus Christ, our example.
So, let’s be clear that any trial could be a stumbling block, if we let it. See, it’s up to us. Satan wants desperately to get us to give up on God, as I mentioned earlier. So, that’s why he tries so hard to infuse us with doubt. How do we counter his actions? To fend him off, we need to saturate our minds with God’s word, and continually stir up God’s Spirit within us. That should be a prayer you should be praying every day. At least, I do, and I encourage you to say, “God, help me stir up Your Spirit. I want to develop more of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to do that.” That would be a great prayer to think about and pray about – and really mean it when you talk to Him that way every day.
We can’t wait, though. “I’ll get to that next week.” No, we can’t do that. We can’t do that. We can’t wait to be getting close to God. Because when we run into these really difficult trials, it’s going to be a real test. So, now is the time – daily, every day – to talk to God in that way and really draw close to Him. It’s a vital task we have each day – regularly praying and thanking God for being there for us, and giving us the faith that we need, and the confidence that we need to go forward. Then we can know that we can trust Him in any situation, and the sixteen words will be in our hearts. They’ll be in our minds – our thoughts.
Again, those situations we face are almost too much to bear. It feels that way. Can we imagine what Joseph – as another example – what he felt like? We don’t need to turn there, but Genesis 39:7-20, describes what Joseph faced. Again – we won’t go through the whole story – but suffice it to say that in one fell swoop, Joseph lost everything. This included his job, his reputation, his wealth. Remember, his employer, Potiphar – his wife lied about him. So, he was thrown in prison unjustly for years. But Joseph never stopped believing in God in the midst of all that. He had it all going for him, then he’s thrown into this dirty old dungeon. Maybe they threw him some food on the floor every day. I don’t know. Joseph never stopped believing in God. Never lost faith in God. And then he finally regained his freedom and new employment – a promotion, incredibly, to the second in power in the Egyptian empire. God put him through that, but then He pulled him out. Another great example for us.
How about the patriarch, Job? We know all about Job. We read about him. He lost all of his wealth, his children, his servants, his livestock – all in a single day. Shortly after that, Job lost his health and his peace of mind when God allowed Satan to inflict him with boils all over his body, sitting in a pile of ash, scratchy and itchy – just miserable. But why all these dreadful afflictions? Was Job a terrible sinner who refused to repent? Not at all. He was a model husband and father. He was generous with his wealth. He helped people in the community. And he obeyed God. He did that. However, God did see something in him. He saw a secret fault of self-righteousness that needed to be rooted out and repented of. Of course, Job wasn’t aware of this spiritual weakness that he had, so it took some time – all the visitors he had and all these kinds of things going on. You can read all about that. So, God allowed this severe trial to teach Job something. Again, God is a great teacher. His self-righteousness blocked further understanding and appreciation of God’s will.
So, just like Job, sometimes God allows disorder to take place in our lives, because maybe we need to see something important about ourselves. We need to understand something more clearly about ourselves. Just as Job sought answers, we should too. Again, we want to be good student, don’t we? In a dialogue with God, Job asked – this is from Job 13:23 – this is from the New International Version – I’ll just read it for you:
Job 13:23 – “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin.” He’s communicating with God there.
Well, afterwards, God spoke to the heart of the matter, identifying Job’s hidden spiritual problem, and offering a solution. When Job deeply repented of it – of this unseen sin – God immediately forgave him and, later, blessed him abundantly. We’ll go back to Job’s story in a couple minutes here, because it has application to the sixteen words. But first, a question: How did God’s faithful servants, written about in the Bible, overcome their trials? Let’s examine briefly four short, but important, points – very brief. How did they overcome their trials?
They accepted trials as a part of their calling. Proverbs 24:16, says this – I’ll read it for you:
Proverbs 24:16 – “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” So, you’re going to go up and down. These are up and down trials. Good times, bad times. It’s part of life. Trials are a part of life.
Second, God’s faithful servants overcame trials by understanding that becoming perfect in obedience requires a degree of suffering. See, because if we had it all together, we wouldn’t have to suffer. But we have to be modified. We have to be little bits and pieces of our old way chopped off and that’s not pleasant, is it? “I like this way I’ve been doing things.” Well, no, God says, “Don’t do that anymore.” It’s unpleasant to feel that way. But once you get in line with God, it’s like, “Oh, I get it – finally get it.” 2 Timothy 3:12 – I’ll just read this one as well:
2 Timothy 3:12 – “All who desire to live Godly and in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” will suffer trials. That’s one of the things they understood – the ancient people who went before us.
Third, faithful servants of God dealt with their trials through faith – through faith. Speaking about Abraham, Paul wrote in Romans 4:20,
Romans 4:20 – “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
Fourth, and most importantly, I think you might say, how did God’s servants deal with their trials? They all believed in and were able to voice, in their own way, in the depth of their heart and soul, the sixteen words. This fourth point is the most critical key to spiritual success in dealing with your trials. It focuses on the indisputable fact that God is always in control. Nothing is outside of His purview. He is in control.
Let’s return to the book of Job – Job, chapter 1:13. As was mentioned earlier, God allowed Satan the devil to attack, but not kill Job. As a result, he suffered terrible losses in that one day. Let’s read about what happened – a little lengthier section of scripture here, but we’ll read it.
Job 1:13-20 – “Now there was a day when the sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house. And a messenger came to Job, and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them when the Sabeans raided them and took them away. Indeed, they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword. And I alone have escaped to tell you.’” Verse 16: “While he was still speaking another came also, and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’” I guess you could call this “Job’s bad day.” I mean, talk about having a bad day. Wow! Verse 17: “While he was still speaking another came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away. Yes, they killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came across the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house. And it fell on the young people and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ And Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshiped.’” So, Job lost nearly everything. He had his wife as well, but throughout all of it that God was in control – no matter what trial, no matter what trouble, no matter what tragedy. He voiced sixteen vitally important words at the end of next verse – after he learned about all his losses. Verse 21:
“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.’” And the sixteen words are next: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” These are the sixteen words that sum up what we must do – what we need to do – to believe in and act faithfully upon when we face our own trials.
Finally, God gives good things, and sometimes, He allows them to be taken away – perhaps to test someone’s faithfulness. In Job’s case, after he learned and applied his needed lessons, God fully restored his blessings in great abundance.
Therefore, let’s never, never, never give up on God – never give up on His way of life due to sore trials or any reason. Rather, let’s give God the glory. Let’s trust in Him. Let’s stand fast, being confident that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And let’s make sure we can and will be able to say and firmly believe the sixteen words: The LORD gave, the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.