Monday, 8 August 2016

TRIUMPHING OVER TRIALS

Seven principles to help us face life's challenges

We cannot control the curve balls life throws at us. They may take the form of accident-related disability, cancer, retrenchment, financial loss, divorce or death of loved ones.


                                                       
When trials come our way, we should view it positively as an opportunity to grow spiritually. We should not be fearful or dismayed because God’s presence is always with us. He will empower us and give us the wisdom to overcome the crisis. Once we commit the matter to God in prayer and, give thanks in advance, He will set our minds at peace. And, when it is all over, we would have a great testimony to share concerning His goodness and mercy.

Let us now delve into the subject of facing trials in greater detail, developing on the points raised above.

James tells believers that when we face trials, we should have a positive attitude. Notice that it is not if we will face trials but when. That means, sooner or later, we all will have to face trials in life. But that does not mean we should grit out teeth and pretend to enjoy the experience. When trials strike, we should view it as an opportunity for personal growth.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we mature in our ability to overcome trials, we will develop perseverance and steadfastness. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

                                                                    
Secondly, when circumstances provoke anxiety in us, we must remember that God’s presence is always with believers (Hebrews 13:5). Long ago, God’s people were challenged to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, which was in ruins. The former glory of Solomon’s Temple was a distant memory. Overwhelmed by the gargantuan task of reconstruction, they were encouraged by the prophetic word from Haggai. 

“Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not” (Haggai 2:4-5).

Both Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the priest, the key people involved in galvanising the people into action, were singled out in the prophecy. With God’s affirmation, Go ahead, I am firmly behind your project, the temple reconstruction team had the heart to work.

Thirdly, when we face trials, we must have faith in God that He will deliver us. We must also depend on His wisdom and strength to overcome it. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:5).

When Judah was threatened by invading armies, King Jehoshaphat stood before his people and cried out to God: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Thereafter, God’s message of deliverance came through the prophet Jahaziel: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's”’ (2 Chronicles 20:15).

King Jehoshaphat then told the nation: “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20b).

Next, the king appointed a worship team to declare God’s faithfulness: “Praise God for His mercy endures forever.” He made these worshippers move ahead of the army, a most unconventional way of going into battle. As they worshipped, God caused their enemies to fight and kill one another. Thus God gave King Jehoshaphat victory over his enemies without him having to go into battle.

                                                                          
Fourthly, the mind is the battleground whenever trials assail us—anxiety, fear and worry often cloud our thinking. Negative thoughts incessantly replay in our minds like a broken record. But we need to remind ourselves that, as we prayerfully commit the situation into God’s hands, and thank Him in advance for delivering us, His peace will comfort us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).



If we believe in the greatness of God’s love and power, even formidable “giants” can be vanquished and mighty “mountains” can be removed.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:18, 20).

“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:23).

How trials distract us from eternal goals

Amid our struggles in life, it is easy to forget eternal goals. We can get so carried away by the cares and worries of this life that we miss out on preparing for the things that really matter. We can get so distracted by trials, and how to overcome them, that we fail to prepare ourselves for judgment when Christ returns (1 Peter 4: 17-18).

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).

To conclude, here are the seven principles for overcoming trials:

  • Be positive about trials as they serve to "enlarge" us and build our character.


  • Don’t be anxious or fearful because God’s presence is with us.


  • Have faith in God and He will give us the strength and wisdom to overcome trials.


  • Worship God as if victory has already been secured.


  • Affirm that the battle is God’s, not ours.


  • Prayerfully commit our anxieties to God, thanking Him in advance for answering us.


  • Believe that God loves us immeasurably and He can do far more than what we ask or think.

When we put into practice all the above points, we will experience His faithfulness and will be able to testify to His goodness and mercy.

After all, God promises to deliver those who know Him and depend on Him:

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honour him.”
(Psalm 91:14-15)

RELATED POSTS

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When we worry, we expend a lot of nervous energy which is better channeled to serving God and advancing His kingdom. Satan is most delighted when the army of God is weak—weighed down and distracted by the cares of the world.

OVERCOMING CRISIS
Who or what do we turn to when crisis strikes? Where do we place our hope and trust?

QUIET CONFIDENCE
How to find inner strength to face life’s challenges

FAITH, FEELINGS, CIRCUMSTANCES
The greater our faith, the more we are freed from the tyranny of our feelings and external circumstances.

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