Mar 12, 2012
The phone rang. It was a good friend, one of the home group leaders in our church.
I knew his company had been going through layoffs, and we had been praying that he would not lose his job.
So he called with good news — sort of. He said he would not be laid off, but that he had to transfer out of state to keep his job.
I was thankful he still had a job. But my heart sank at the thought of him moving away — a friend, a co-laborer in the Gospel, a brother in Christ.
Every believer faces trials.
So how do you deal with trials? Do you try to stay positive? Do you say: “It will be fine”? Do you look on the bright side?
What does it mean to trust Christ when we are facing trials?
Here’s what I think it means —
Turn immediately to trust Christ.
When we face trials we can wonder — does God really loves us? Is he really for us?
So start by turning immediately to trust Christ. Because when you look to Christ by faith you can be assured that God has accepted you, forgiven you, justified you (Heb 4:16). You can know that God loves you and is for you.
Even if your heart is wavering? Yes. Even if you are fearful? Absolutely. As you look to Christ by faith, God is enthusiastically moving towards you to help.
Earnestly ask the Father to comfort, strengthen, and help you.
Don’t just go through the motions of prayer. Passionately plead with the Father to help you.
Ask Him to strengthen your faith (Mark 9:24); comfort you (2Cor 1:3-4); fill you with hope (Rom 15:13). He will. Every time (Psa 86:5).
Fight to trust that this trial is under God’s loving control, designed by Him to bring you great good.
It might be hard for you to wrap your heart around this, especially if you are in the midst of a painful trial.
But God’s Word teaches that He is in wise and loving control of everything, including every trial (Eph 1:11). He’s in ultimate control, even if another person has done something (Gen 50:20), and even if Satan is involved (Job 2:7,10).
So pray over Scriptures such as Acts 14:22, 1Pet 4:12-13, Rom 8:28 until the Holy Spirit enables you to see and feel this truth.
But this raises a question — what is the great good God brings us through trials?
Sometimes it’s the great good of seeing even more of His glory when He delivers us from the trials. This is what the blind man experienced in John 9:2-3.
So my next step is usually to …
Pray and ask the Father to deliver you from the trial.
That’s what Asa did when enemies attacked (2Ch 14:11). That’s what Paul did when suffering from his thorn in the flesh (2Cor 12:7-8).
So pray for God to deliver you from the trial. He can heal bodies (James 5:16), change circumstances (James 5:17-18), and redirect people (Prov 21:1).
And if God delivers you, receive the even greater good of seeing more of His glory — and worship (Luk 17:15).
But sometimes God has another purpose for the trial. So while you are praying for deliverance, also take this next step …
Trust that if this trial continues, God will use it to give you even more joy in Jesus’ glory now and forever.
That’s taught in 2Cor 4:16-17–
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Trials take something from us — maybe health, money, or friends. But they also prepare something for us — an eternal weight of glory, which means increased joy in beholding Jesus’ glory now and forever. That’s why we do not lose heart.
Think of it like this: what if $1,000 was taken from your bank account? That could make you lose heart.
But what if you knew that the $1,000 was being put into an investment giving you $100,000 a year for the rest of your life? Would you still lose heart over the $1,000? No.
That’s why we don’t need to lose heart over trials — because God has planned those trials to bring us even more joy in beholding Jesus’ glory now and forever.
But too often we do lose heart. Why?
It’s because all we’re seeing is the losses — and we’re not seeing the infinitely greater joy of Jesus’ glory.
So this next step is crucial –
Prayerfully set your heart on Jesus Christ until you feel that knowing Him will more than make up for every loss.
Paul says the reason we don’t lose heart is because we look, not to things that are seen, but to things that are not seen (2Cor 4:18).
Trials threaten seen things — in my case a good friend, maybe in your case comfort, employment, or reputation. And during trials it’s easy to focus on the seen things we’re losing.
That’s why we need to set our hearts on the unseen things — Jesus’ glory. Set your heart on the truth of Jesus in God’s Word — and pray for the work of the Spirit. He will give you such a taste of Jesus’ glory that you will feel that having more of Jesus is worth any loss.
That probably feels impossible — especially if you are in the midst of a trial. But God promises that if you will pray earnestly and set your hearts on the truth of Jesus — He will lift you out of the miry bog, set your feet on the rock, and fill you with praise (Psa 40:1-3).
Here’s Scriptures that have helped me see Jesus — Mark 1:40-42; Mark 5:21-24; Mark 10:45; Luke 24:36-39; Gal 2:20; Col 1:15-20; 1Tim 2:5; Rev 1:5.
Fight to trust that God will provide everything else you need.
Part of your struggle may be fear of how this trial could destroy your finances, drain your strength, cause you pain, or require wisdom you don’t have.
But the good news is that God promises to provide everything you need — money, wisdom, comfort, strength. Everything (Matt 6:33; Phil 4:13; Phil 4:19; 2Cor 9:8; James 1:5).
So pray over these promises until, through faith, the Holy Spirit gives you complete peace that all your needs will be met.
This heart-changing work of the Spirit might come quickly. But it often takes time. So first you may need to leave off prayer to take care of other responsibilities — like mowing the lawn or shopping for groceries. But when you can, return to praying over God’s Word.
Because however long it takes, God promises to meet you in the Word and prayer. He will fill your heart with satisfaction in His Son, and peace in His promises. This is the great good He wants to give us in every trial.
Feedback? Comments? Pushback?
I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave a reply below. Thanks.
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And here’s some other resources concerning problems or trials —
- How Hudson Taylor saw difficulties.
- Charles Spurgeon on trials.
- Jesus as the Super-Piling.
- Esther Burr on the death of her husband.
(The picture is by hjl on everystockphoto.com.)