How are we as Christians to regard such a time as this?
Some of you may have the virus. Others of you have friends or loved ones who have suffered or even died from it. Others of you have lost or are about to lose your livelihoods. In some way, all of us have experienced inconveniences and discouragement we have never known before. None of us knows what the future holds.
Jesus warned His disciples that in this life we will have tribulations or trials (John 16:33). What was He talking about?
Most times, these are things we don’t like to think about. We have been conditioned to think that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, life will be rosy and sweet. What happens when life is not sweet?
Even the best of us experience trials. Jesus Himself was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. Paul the apostle experienced many tribulations (2 Cor. 11:16-33).
In his first letter, Peter portrays the ideal Christian as both a person of great joy and much sorrow and grief, subject to many trials in life. These are not just chance events, but things that are allowed, and even sent, “if necessary,” by God Himself. Why does God find it necessary?
First and foremost, God wants to build His church whose foundation is Jesus Christ. He saves us when we are still sinners. We enter the kingdom in an imperfect state. God allows trials for at least three different reasons:
- Sometimes He chastises us for our failures. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens,” we are told in Hebrews 12:6. If we do not know the chastening of the Lord, if all is sweetness and light in our lives, we are not Christians, it is as simple as that.
- Sometimes God allows trials in life to prepare us for a higher task, to make us more dependent upon Him. Think of Joseph and David who knew grievous trials of faith. God chose them for greater things, and they needed greater maturity to bear greater responsibilities.
- Even when we have not fallen into gross sin, we are still imperfect in our faith. We all have many areas of the flesh in our thinking and doing, however unconscious they may be, that interfere with our effective walk with Christ. Often, God sends trials our way to make us aware of these things and to bring out a greater faith.
When we bear these trials and learn from them to develop greater fellowship with our Heavenly Father, we certify that we are indeed His children. We learn to rejoice in our salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5) in ways we have never rejoiced before. As believers who rejoice in the midst of tribulation, we become testimonies to a watching world of a great and loving God.
Which of these kinds of trials have you experienced? When we learn from them, they last only for a season. The fruit we bear in our lives at such times glorifies our Lord Jesus. Such fruit lasts for eternity and affects not only us but the world around us.
During this time of trial and crisis, how ready are we to submit to God’s will and allow Him to work through our present troubles to bring about revival, healing and spiritual awakening?