Wednesday, 22 July 2015


The other day someone shared on Facebook: “Trials and suffering are designed by the devil against believers. God only wants to bless believers.” 

Does God only bless believers and exempt them from facing trials?

It is clear that God had allowed satan to afflict these saints, Job and Paul.

When Job lost his children, wealth and health, he did not get any clear answer as to why he had to endure such pain. Earlier, a deal was struck whereby God allowed satan to afflict Job as long as his life was spared.

Similarly, Paul did not get any clear answer from God for his sufferings. Given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from satan, he sought relief from God but was told: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

However, it does not mean that all trials are from satan. Sometimes trials are due to rash decisions, sins and adverse circumstances in life such as floods or retrenchment due to economic downturn.

But whatever the cause, God can use trials and tribulations to shape the character of believers —for their own good. God loves His children and desires to bless us (Matthew 6:33, Deuteronomy 28: 1-6). However, God does not exempt us from having to go through trials.

The half-truth that is bandied around in church circles is the “feel good” teaching that God will always bless us with “goodies” in life such as success, health and wealth. Trials and tribulations are downplayed—as if they play an insignificant role in the life of believers.

Such “feel good” teaching works beautifully during good times. But the crunch comes when its adherents face crises—such as retrenchment, incurable disease, failed marriage or persecution. They may then become disillusioned; some may even leave the faith.

Believers who are accustomed only to “fair weather” are likened to the seeds that fell upon rocky ground and among the thorns (Luke 8:13-14). As the challenges of the spiritual race (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27) have not been emphasised to them, they often lack the ability to endure trials (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that trials are an integral part of the Christian experience as much as blessings and victories. We may even feel that God has forsaken us while facing such trials (Psalm 77: 8-9). But the truth is God will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6).

In fact, the process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through our trials and doubts, and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith (James 1:2-4, Hebrews 12:11 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

If we feel faint as we go through trials, we need to focus on Jesus—the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

  • God has put us through trials because He is treating us as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (Hebrews 12:7).

  • A servant is not greater than his or her master. Even so, believers who are His servants cannot be exempted or shielded from pain.

  • “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

To conclude, let’s reflect again on the above premise: “Trials and suffering are designed by the devil against believers. God only wants to bless believers.”  Is it true or false? Or is it a half-truth? 

It is true that God sometimes allows satan to inflict suffering on believers as illustrated in the lives of Job and Paul. God not only blesses believers with “goodies” in life but often uses trials to shape our character. Trials definitely have a positive role to play in the life of believers.

Conversely, if material blessings were the sole indicator of God’s favour, then drug dealers, human traffickers and mafia bosses would be deemed “spiritual giants”. While those who consult shamans sometimes get to enjoy temporal blessings—miraculous cures or lottery winnings—they have sold their souls to satan. Now who says satan cannot “bless” us?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).


The mantra of the proponents of the “prosperity Gospel” goes something like this: “Name it and claim it”; “Ask and you shall receive”; “The more you sow, the more you’ll reap.” All these affirmations are positive. Believers use it frequently. But even good things can be hijacked to serve selfish motives such as greed and ambition.

What does the Bible say about abundance and riches?

Is God’s wisdom only relevant in guiding us along the correct moral path? Has it no relevance to our finances? Doesn't God care for our financial well-being?


Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. The former call it “seed faith”.
Is this biblical? What has the father of the ‘Word of Faith’ movement to say?

Luther asked:  "If you, being the man of God, claim to have the heart of God, then why are you taking from the resources of the people for your own unjust gain, instead of, as the Apostle Paul, working night and day so as not to be a burden to the people?"


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