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WHY Do Christians Have TRIALS?
Good News Magazine
April 1969
Volume: Vol XVIII, No. 4
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WHY Do Christians Have TRIALS?
William F Dankenbring   
Church of God

Member Since: 1957
Ambassador College: 1963
Office: ACE

Master of Arts Degree from Ambassador.

Some seem to think God's people should never encounter difficulties, meet trials or tests. Is this true? Few understand why Christians have trials!

   ALL OF God's people meet trials and tests during their Christian life. Trials arise which seem to completely baffle them! Problems come seemingly from nowhere. Life becomes confusing, frustrating and it seems that EVERYTHING goes wrong!
   Have YOU ever felt this way?
   There is a reason for such thoughts, feelings and frustrations! They do not just "happen." It is time we all REALIZED the root CAUSE of our problems and difficulties!
   WHY do Christians have trials? What is the purpose of troubles, trials, and tribulation? Should a Christian have to go through troubles and trials in this life?
   It is time you knew the answer, and searched your own life, and learned the purpose of your trials!

WHY Trials?

   Does the Bible teach smooth sailing for true Christians whom God is using? Did the men of God, whose lives pleased God as recorded in the Bible, have an easy time of it, or were they constantly meeting trials, tests, troubles of every sort being continually forced to cry out to God for deliverance?
   Listen to God's Word: "MANY are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Eternal delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19).
   "We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
   WHY is this so?
   "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12).
   WHY does God allow it?
   "If we SUFFER, we shall also reign with Him" (II Tim. 2:12).
   But Why?

Overwhelming Trials

   God's greatest servants suffered trials. Some of them were so depressed at times that they wanted to DIE. Life became too much of a struggle. Their problems grew too weighty and overpowering. Death seemed to be the "only out."
   Job became so discouraged that he groaned, "Oh that my GRIEF were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea" (Job 6:2-3).
   Moses, the man of God, once felt so overwhelmed he exclaimed to God, "Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?" (Num. 11:11, 12.)
   Elijah, also, knew trials and discouragement. Fearful of his life, he fled from Jezebel who sought to kill him. He wandered into the wilderness and requested to die (I Kings 19:1-4). He felt like giving up quitting!
   God had to rebuke him, to straighten up his attitude (verses 9-18).
   Elijah, too, was human. At times he had problems with his attitude. But because he yielded himself to GOD, as an instrument in His hands, and drew near to God, and prayed FERVENTLY, he was mightily USED of God and worked miracles (see James 5:16-18).
   Trials did not drag Job, Moses, Elijah, or other servants of God down into the muck and mire. Why? Because when they saw their trials and failings, they did not allow depression to take over. They did NOT "give up" and QUIT.
   Rather, they REPENTED of their discouragement, their negative attitudes and they turned to God. He forgave them, and imparted spiritual strength to them and mightily USED them in His Work!
   Because of trials, it seems many are tempted to give up the fight and quit, just before achieving success! Many, for lack of a little more perseverance, have come short and FAILED! They were willing to endure "so far" and that was it.
   Rather than face up to their problems, they hid their faces, ran from the problems and died, spiritually! They allowed clouds of depression to befog their vision, lost sight of the GOAL of the Christian life, and began to wander aimlessly, groping in darkness.
   Are YOU allowing trials and an attitude of discouragement to make a shipwreck of YOUR spiritual life?

Was Paul Discouraged by Trials?

   What about the apostle Paul? He was used to write more books of the New Testament than any other man. Was he ever discouraged? Depressed?
   Paul was human, and undoubtedly he suffered many discouragements. When old friends and long-time converts fell away from God's truth, Paul must have suffered great personal pain and heartache. Paul's life was filled with troubles, trials, turmoils and narrow escapes.
   But did he ever allow discouragement from trials to reign in his life?
   Let Paul speak for himself. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the LIFE also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (II Cor. 4:8-10).
   Although beset and buffeted by circumstances beyond his control, Paul was not discouraged. He was not a quitter. He declared, "For which cause WE FAINT NOT; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is RENEWED day by day" (II Cor. 4:16).
   Paul shared intimately his sufferings as a minister of God with the Corinthians, writing, "But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, ... behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always REJOICING; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (II Cor. 6:4, 9-10).
   Surely, if any man had anything to be discouraged and disheartened about, Paul did! But yet, as we just finished reading, he REJOICED in his trials and afflictions, problems and sufferings!
   Paul had suffered personally. Therefore he was able to write the Corinthians and say, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in ALL OUR TRIBULATION, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (II Cor. 1:3-5).
   Paul had been tempted, so he was able to succor and help others who were suffering, distressed, and even discouraged. Paul could comfort and sympathize with others who had trials and problems.
   Paul stayed CLOSE to God.
   Discouragement did not have a chance around him! His life was totally DEDICATED, devoted to God! Whether he lived, or died, did not matter with him (Phil. 1:21-24). Whether he abounded, or was abased did not count with him (Phil. 4:11-12).
   His eyes were always Godward (Col. 3:1-2). His affection was on things above, not on earthly, sensual, fleshly things. His MIND was centered, concentrated on forgetting past trials, and past failures or discouragements and his attention was focused on those things which are before, pressing FORWARD to the high calling of Christ Jesus in the Kingdom of God (Phil. 3:13-14).
   Paul had totally CONQUERED discouragement! Toward the end of his life, he wrote Timothy in absolute faith and assurance, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (II Tim. 4:7-8).
   Here is an example of resolute faith, determined hope and assurance.
   Paul had no room for doubt, discouragement or despair. His life was FILLED with radiant hope and faith toward God.
   Yours can be also, if you will draw CLOSE to God through DAILY prayer and diligent Bible study, drinking in of His inspiring, encouraging Word. Your life can be filled with HOPE, and joy, and you can have a POSITIVE approach to every problem, by drawing near to your heavenly Father who gives every good and perfect gift!
   But you must be willing to do YOUR part.

Still Human

   Too often, once we are converted, we lose sight of the fact that we STILL have human nature. We forget the scripture, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH." That scripture applies not only to the world, brethren it applies also to true Christians!
   Some of God's people assume they AUTOMATICALLY know which way they should go. They fail to see the pitfalls looming in their path due to the presence of human nature! Therefore, in their innocence, they carelessly plod onward, ASSUMING they will naturally do what is right, confident that no great trials will come to them.
   And then, suddenly, they find themselves in the midst of TROUBLE confronted by unexpected trials.
   And they begin to wonder, "WHY?"
   "How could God let this happen?" They are tempted to think GOD has failed them somewhere forgetting that most of our problems are due to our own foolishness our human nature leading us astray.
   Jeremiah was inspired to write, "O LORD, I know that the way of man is NOT in himself: it is NOT in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23). Jeremiah meant YOU.
   YOU don't know, automatically, of yourself, which way to go, how to make decisions pertaining to your life, what God's will is. You need to constantly check up on yourself, seek the counsel of GOD, keep close to Him in prayer and constant, submissive Bible study.
   Notice! Solomon wrote, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy PATHS" (Prov. 3:5-6).
   Do you see?
   The way that seems right to a man seems right to YOU is the WRONG WAY! And IF you are enticed into following that way, which looks so good, you will sooner or later find yourself hemmed in by sudden troubles confronted with towering problems!
   And, whenever necessary, God will chasten you to remind you of this great lesson!
   David was inspired to write, "BEFORE I was afflicted I went astray: but NOW have I kept thy word" (Psalm 119:67). Notice! His afflictions brought him back to God's way! He exclaimed, "It is GOOD for me that I have been AFFLICTED; that I might learn thy statutes" (verse 71). David knew the value of God's loving chastisement and correction!
   Yes, our trials, troubles, "afflictions," are GOOD for us. That is why God permits them to OCCUR! By means of them God CHASTENS us and teaches us which way we should go! They may "hurt" for a while, but by means of them we learn to stop sinning, to stop seeking our OWN way we learn to be more cautious, WE LEARN TO PONDER THE PATHS OF OUR FEET (Prov. 4:26). We also learn to build the qualities of HUMILITY, FAITH, PATIENCE!
   Knowing our trials and chastenings are indeed for our welfare, the apostle James wrote, "My brethren, COUNT IT ALL JOY when ye fall into divers temptations: knowing this, that the trying of your FAITH worketh PATIENCE. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and ENTIRE, WANTING NOTHING" (James 1:2-4).

Human Nature Responsible

   Look at the world around you. Notice how everybody seems bent on GETTING HIS OWN WAY in everything he does! Is this any different from the tiny squalling baby?
   In business, ambitious young executive "climbers" knife and stab each other in the back in order to GET ahead themselves! At home, wives try to convince "hubby" that they need a new dress, coat, or should go out for dinner that evening. Children try to convince their parents that they need a larger allowance, more freedom, less restrictions around home. On the international scene, nations try to bully, cajole, or trick other nations into serving their own selfish interests.
   No matter WHERE you look, somebody is out to get the best of SOMEBODY ELSE! Everybody is out for "number one"! No love is shown, just a false veneer called "love," a sanctimonious "look" which is calculated to disguise the inner deceit! While patting you on the back, a dagger is gently slipped between your ribs!
   Your Bible says that YOUR natural, carnal mind is by its very nature HOSTILE toward God (Rom. 8). It is enmity toward God, toward His way, His divine nature, HIS WILL! Speaking of the heart of man, the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write, "The HEART is deceitful above all things, and DESPERATELY WICKED; who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).
   Yes, you, by your very NATURE, do not want to go God's way, do things His way, or SUBMIT to His will!
   You are by nature SELFISH! Your whole natural life is filled with self-motivation, self-seeking, self-exaltation, self-interests, pleasing the senses of the self!
   This nature is very obvious in a squalling baby. Babies have no consideration whatsoever for their parents. They don't stop to think of the trouble they cause their parents if they begin to bawl in the middle of the night!
   And we are just little babies grown Zip! WE STILL HAVE THE VERY SAME HUMAN NATURE!
   That nature is responsible for YOUR trials!

God's Holy Spirit

   Each one of us has the same basically EVIL, selfish, grasping human HEART!
   But that is trot all!
   Notice! "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (Gal. 5:22-23).
   How contrary to HUMAN NATURE!
   LOVE is outgoing CONCERN for other people a desire to give, serve, and help. But human nature is SELF-love wanting to give to, serve, and help THE SELF!
   God's Spirit is full of JOY. But human nature is so intent upon fulfilling its own selfish aims that it has no time for the expression of true JOY! It is trying to get, get, GET and it is miserable when it cannot obtain its desires.
   God's Spirit brings PEACE contentment and peace of mind. But human nature is always STRIVING to obtain more for the self. It knows no rest, no relaxation. It is full of worry, fears and frustrations!
   God's Spirit IS patient. It is willing to contentedly WAIT for God to perform His promises and pour out His blessings in His own good time. It is willing to suffer long, and endure reproach for Christ's sake. It is supremely patient.
   Not so, human nature! It is in a great rush, an excited hurry full of haste! It wants to get, and GET NOW! Right now, it cries in anguish, thinking only of its OWN selfish needs and desires!
   The Spirit of GOD is very gentle, tender, loving toward others. Human nature is brusque, hurried, sharp with others, blunt, has no consideration for their feelings or weaknesses.
   What about goodness? God gives His blessings freely, to all, without respect of persons. God seeks to lavish GOOD upon His people! It rejoices God to be able to BLESS others! But human nature, on the contrary, is rude, insolent, and feels that others are worthless, undeserving of any favor.
   Do you SEE how rotten and contrary to God's way human nature IS?
   Notice further! The Spirit of God is the Spirit OF faith patient TRUST, and reliance upon GOD! It is willing to put its trust in God and look to HIM, no matter how circumstances may temporarily appear, knowing that GOD is able to change and alter circumstances to produce His promised blessings!
   But human nature HAS no faith! It does NOT believe in God's promises. It only believes what it can see, feel, hear and taste! It is not willing to trust God for anything. It relies TOTALLY upon self, seeks to work the angles, and is preoccupied with LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE! "Every man for himself" is its motto.
   What about humility? The Spirit of God is humble, respects others, and recognizes their potentialities and qualities. It is willing to GIVE UP its own comfort, even its own life, in order to serve and help others! It is willing to abase the self and SACRIFICE for others! even as JESUS CHRIST Himself was willing to forsake all and suffer the ignominious death of the cross for OUR sakes!
   But not so, human nature! "Every man at his best state is ALTOGETHER VANITY!" Human nature is proud, insolent, full of scorn for others. Self is placed upon a towering pedestal, enshrined in an ivory tower.

Importance of CHARACTER

   Trials and troubles come upon us because of faults or flaws in our character. As long as these faults remained, we could not enter God's Kingdom!
   There are MANY lessons each one of us needs desperately to learn and have ingrained within his character, in order to enter God's Kingdom. We need to learn the LESSON to depend upon God, and not upon our own selves. We need to learn FAITH reliance upon God instead of looking to our own works to get us what we want.
   As human beings, we are naturally proud so God gives us trials and tests in order to HUMBLE us and make us learn by experience that we are not sufficient unto ourselves. Pride, cocky conceit and vanity are the ANTITHESIS of God's character; and these carnal traits must be rooted out of our character if we are to become God!
   Patience is another lesson we learn when God permits trials to come upon us. Perhaps the particular trial remains around for some time, and even though we pray, God does not remove it immediately. Does that cause your faith to waver?
   It shouldn't. Rather, you should LEARN that God is trying your faith and patience. As you faithfully persevere in whatever test God gives YOU, patiently WAITING for His divine and promised answer, God will NOT let you down. But He will give you the answer WHEN He sees it is right for you in the way He knows is best for you! And, in the process, you build PATIENCE.
   By means of our trials we build the very CHARACTER God wants so we can enter the Kingdom!
   Your trials teach you to STOP looking to yourself for deliverance for the solution to your problems. For, the longer you look to self, the greater the PROBLEM becomes! Your trials teach you how human you are and how much you need to REPENT of self what you ARE, as well as the evil you DO!
   Do you begin to see? You NEED trials! Without them you could not grow spiritually! Without them and the pressure they put upon you, you would simply coast along, blithely assuming everything is all right carelessly taking for granted your salvation!
   WE cannot become SONS OF GOD members of the very God family! simply by coasting along, not overcoming, not learning the spiritual lessons we need, not DEVELOPING the character of Jesus Christ!
   God will not entrust AWESOME POWER to US until He has tested and PROVED us! He wants to know, we will be FAITHFUL to the end!
   God is PROVING you testing you and PURGING YOUR CHARACTER!
   To become a member of the GOD FAMILY, you must put OFF selfish, untrustworthy human nature, and be clothed with the DIVINE nature of God! Frustration comes when you follow your own nature, seeking your own way, instead of the way of God. But, God loves you so much that He will PUNISH and chasten you to PURIFY your character to bring you back to Him, His way, so that you might enter His glorious KINGDOM!
   What great love and concern God has for His children! He is concerned FOR YOU! That is why He permits TRIALS in your life!
   There trials are the proof of God's love! Even as a father spanks his children, God chastens YOU for your own spiritual welfare!

The Perfect Example

   Jesus Christ also had human nature.
   But He was never FRUSTRATED. He never felt hopelessly confused or frustrated because of overwhelming problems. Do you know why?
   Remember! He was human like you and I He also had HUMAN NATURE (Heb. 2:14-18). He was TEMPTED in all points like as we are (Heb. 4:15). But He knew human nature He knew that human nature only spelled T-R-0-U-B-L-E if He surrendered to its impulses, drives, or desires. Jesus mastered His human nature He kept it under control ALWAYS!
   As Jesus slowly strode into the garden of Gethsemane, just before the crucifixion, His thoughts tossed and turned within Him. He was sorely tempted by His human nature to "forget the whole thing." His human nature cried out, "WHY should you sacrifice YOUR life!" "Why should you suffer?" "What's in this for you?"
   Those thoughts are very human, and Jesus had human nature. But He did not give in to them! Jesus never flinched, never faltered in the face of the ordeal. He prayed to the Father, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, BUT AS THOU WILT" (Matt. 26:39).
   "... Nevertheless not my will, BUT THINE, be done" (Luke 22:42).
   Jesus had totally conquered SELF. He COMPLETELY surrendered HIS WILL to God. He had brought every thought into subjection to God. He did NOT seek His OWN WAY!
   But what about YOU? Do you sincerely pray for GOD'S WILL to be done in your OWN life? Are you truly, fully SUBMISSIVE to the will of God? Or do you allow your human nature to exert its selfish, imperious demands in your life?
   If you have felt confused, bewildered, frustrated if everything seems to be going WRONG for you or if you seem to have so many problems that YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO then YOU need to stop and take stock of your life.
   Check up on your ATTITUDE!
   Have you been seeking your OWN WILL? Has your own human nature in borne devious way deceived you into doing something that was not right in God's sight? Have the tentacles of SIN crept into your life? Have you trusted in yourself in some matter, not looking to God for direction or counsel? Have you ASSUMED something unnecessarily, without proving it first? Have you gone the way that "seemed right" to you?
   Look at your life! LOOK AT YOUR SELF!
   Perhaps, now, you are beginning to see for the first time just exactly WHY you, you personally, feel loaded down with problems and trials! Perhaps now you are beginning to realize more fully what your HUMAN NATURE is LIKE!
   If you feel that you have been virtually beating your head against a WALL if you think that everything has been going wrong if you feel totally miserable and utterly FRUSTRATED then don't blame God bitterly for what has happened! Rather, stop and search yourself for the FAULT the reason for your troubles!


   Analyze yourself! How OFTEN do you submit to selfish temptations? Now often do you exhibit competitiveness, greed or selfishness? How often do you become hasty, rash, in seeking your own way? How often do you become WORRIED, anxious, or fearful?
   How often are you DEPRESSED, because something you desired did not quite work out the way YOU wanted it? Have you ever been bitter because you did not get your own way about some matter?
   Have you ever lost faith in God and TRIED TO work things out yourself? Have you ever faithlessly TAKEN MATTERS INTO yow own hands, thinking GOD may not work them out for the best?
   How often have you permitted human PRIDE and vanity to assert itself in your life taking pride in yow accomplishments, boasting about what you have done, bragging on yourself?
   No WONDER you have had trials, frustrations, TROUBLES! You still have HUMAN NATURE which leads you into SIN. And sin brings problems, troubles, trials, frustrations!
   No matter how circumstances may appear, no matter how many howling trials may blow across your path no matter if you feel you are lost in a thick forest of mountainous trials are YOU willing to say to God, "I know your way is best! I KNOW you permit trials for my good, so I might see the foolishness of my own way, so I may be chastened and purified, in order to develop the very character of Jesus Christ!"
   What about YOU? Are you still hanging on to some of your carnality? Are you STILL clinging to the flesh, fleshly desires, selfish interests, personal aspirations? Are you compromising with God and your own human nature? Are you going only "part way" with Him? Do you still have reservations? Is there an "escape clause" in your contract with GOD, so that if you don't get YOUR own desires, you can "back out" of the agreement?
   If so, you are only fooling yourself. There IS no middle ground!
   We cannot "kid" God. What we sow, we shall reap. There is NO hiding from God. He KNOWS our innermost thoughts and desires our HUMAN HEART! He knows our natural selfishness!
   And God knows that as long as we compromise with Him, or seek to work things out ourselves seek our OWN way, will, desires, interests the end result will be greater and greater trials, confusion and bewilderment leading eventually to DEATH!
   God knows that we of our own selves are simply CARNAL SELFISH!
   But He does not want us to stay that way! He gives us trials and tests. He chastises us and punishes us in order to cause us to CHANGE!
   God DESIRES that each one of us enter His Kingdom as His very own SON! But, in order to DO this, we must CHANGE.

WHY Discouragement?

   Sometimes trials and tests bring discouragement. Sometimes personal problems, faults and weaknesses contribute to depression.
   But all these factors concern the one great problem which people have they get their eyes off the GOAL, begin thinking about themselves, and lose sight of the purpose God is working out in their lives.
   They let prayer slide. They neglect Bible study. They thereby lose close CONTACT with God. Discouragement is the end product.
   Look in your own life. Hasn't this been the case? Haven't physical matters, personal concerns, taken precedence over the spiritual? When you lose contact with God, the result is ALWAYS failure and depression.
   It is vitally important, therefore, to DRAW CLOSE TO GOD whenever discouragement threatens. If we draw near to God, He promises to draw nigh to us! (James 4:8.)
   If we draw near, through earnest PRAYER and study of His Word which is the most POSITIVE Book ever written! He will give us spiritual STRENGTH to resist and overcome whatever trial troubles us.

Change Your OUTLOOK

   Have you allowed trials to give you despondent, gloomy thoughts in the past? Even now, do negative thoughts trouble you? Are you discouraged from trials?
   You can change!
   God says, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD" (Isa 55:7-8).
   Change your THOUGHTS! Learn to rule over them!
   Through drawing close to God, and His Holy Spirit, begin to think positively, as GOD HIMSELF THINKS! Be FILLED with God's truth, His thoughts, through the study of His Word!
   There is no need for any of God's people to feel depressed or discouraged. You can DEFEAT DISCOURAGEMENT before it gets started!
   Jesus Christ did not come to bring sorrow and depression. Rather, Jesus Himself said, in unmistakable terms, "... I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY." (John 10:10).
   The abundant life is not one filled with worries, frowns, anxieties, depressions, concerns, or negative despondency! It is filled with the fruits of God's Spirit: LOVE, JOY, FAITH!
   It is not self-centered, but God-centered. It is not worried about the affairs of this temporary, short, physical life. It is concerned about the TRUE GOAL of life the Kingdom of God! It is not occupied with material matters. Such things are counted as "dung" (Phil. 3:8).
   The abundant Christian life is filled with SPIRITUAL CONCERNS and is centered on the things of GOD!
   It is the truly positive, hopeful, happy life!
   It can and should be YOURS!
   Notice what Paul wrote Timothy "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of FEAR; but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a sound mind'' (II Tim. 1:6-7).
   A SOUND mind is not plagued by fear complexes, phobias, negative attitudes. It is HOPEFUL of the future! God's Spirit gives a sound mind. It is the Spirit of love.
   God says, "There is NO FEAR in love; but perfect love {imparted by the Holy Spirit) casteth OUT fear: because fear hath torment" (I John 4:18). The Holy Spirit of God CASTS OUT such negative feelings as fear, worry, moodiness, faithlessness, discouragement. It replaces them with real love, JOY, faith brimful confidence in God, and supreme HOPE in His Word and promises!
   God's Spirit imparts POWER to overcome trials and discouragement! Before its immense power, such minute, weakling attitudes and moods scamper like thousands of jackrabbits before a tornado. They don't stand a CHANCE!

How to CONQUER Trials

   The Word of God gives vital information regarding CONQUERING every human problem, every spiritual problem, including the problem which faces so many from time to time depression and despair.
   Solomon wrote, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). This scripture illustrates a basic principle. As people think in their heart, they ACT whether negatively, positively, or however. Moods and attitudes begin with thoughts in the heart. The thought is reflected in the personality, the bearing, the manner of expression, the eyes.
   Therefore, every thought itself needs to be brought under control. The apostle Paul wrote, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting DOWN imaginations [reasonings], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity EVERY THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:4-5).
   God wants us to bring every single thought into CAPTIVITY control, rule over our very thought-processes! In this way, we can learn to control and RULE OVER our moods, attitudes, and emotions!
   The way to cast wrong, negative thoughts OUT of the mind is to place good, POSITIVE thoughts IN the mind. The way to get air OUT of a milk bottle is to pour milk IN!
   God explains what kinds of thoughts His people should have. "... Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS" (Phil. 4:8).
   Paul told the evangelist Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an EXAMPLE of the believers, in word, in conversation [conduct), in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." He commanded him, "MEDITATE upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (I Tim. 4:12, 15).
   A Christian's thoughts are VERY IMPORTANT! They must be ruled over, and brought into subjection!
   In this way, negative feelings and discouragement from trials CAN BE DEFEATED!

The Key Attitude

   What is YOUR biggest trial? Stop and think about it for a moment. What has your attitude been toward it about it? Has it really tested your faith your perseverance?
   Is your trial teaching you to TRUST IN GOD and rely on Him all the way? Is it building FAITH? Is it teaching you PATIENCE?
   Remember, whatever your trial GOD KNOWS IT. He knows ALL ABOUT it. And He is deeply CONCERNED for you, whoever you are! If He wanted, He could lift the trial off your back in an instant the very fact that He DOESN'T do this shows plainly that He sees the trial is GOOD for you that you need it, in order to develop the character of Christ!
   God knows YOUR problem. It is not hidden from His eyes! He wants you to commit it to Him and trust Him with it. He wants you to learn to RELY on Him, in patient, living FAITH! At the same time, He wants you to continue growing spiritually, doing YOUR part in overcoming yourself, yielding to Him, and obeying His commandments.
   In due time, He WILL DELIVER YOU! That is His Word His promise and it cannot be broken (John 10:35; Titus 1:2). But you must trust in Him patiently, perseveringly. You must root out the sin that may be causing the trial. You must do your part and trust God to do His.

WHY Christians Have Trials

   There is a reason for every trial! God is not dead. He is very much ALIVE, and very much CONCERNED for you! Trials do NOT mean God has lost interest in you. God knows every hair on your head (Luke 21:18). He knows all about YOU!
   But why, then, do you have trials? Basically, trials come for ONE reason: YOU ARE NOT YET PERFECT! If YOU were already perfect, you would need no trials. But since you still have a way to go, before attaining perfection, God gives you trials to HELP YOU ALONG!
   Trials, troubles are usually due to coming short of the mark that is, SIN. We usually suffer as a result of sin somehow creeping into our life, deceiving us, and causing us to make unwise decisions. Sin brings trouble, trials and eventually, if not repented of, DEATH!
   Therefore, when we stumble into sin, God PUNISHES us to wake us up and bring us to repentance. When we disobey God, we reap the curses mentioned in Leviticus 26! When we repent, God's blessings are POURED out upon us!
   But, that is not the whole story. Human nature itself is greatly responsible for many of our trials. It is full of deceit and wickedness vanity and hostility (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7). It is full of SELF!
   Therefore, to help us OVERCOME the downward pulls of human nature, and get RID of self, God gives us trials. He chastens and punishes and corrects us (Heb. 12:6). God's chastening is PROOF of His great LOVE for us! But often the chastening takes the form of a trial.
   Why, then, do we have trials?
   Because we NEED them! They teach us important lessons of FAITH, humility, reverence and worship for God! They show us how incapable we are, of ourselves, of working out our problems! They refine and purge, purify and strengthen our CHARACTER! They help us change from being carnal and inwardly centered to SPIRITUAL and OUTGOING in our concern!
   They change our CHARACTER! The selfish dross is purged away! The spiritual nature of Christ is implanted! In this way we grow to "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
   Notice what God told the Israelites, our forefathers: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to HUMBLE thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no" (Deut. 8:2).

Rejoice in Trials!

   James wrote, "My brethren, count it all JOY when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh PATIENCE. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may he perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:2-4). Do you count trials as all JOY?
   Notice what Peter said: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the FIERY TRIAL which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: BUT REJOICE, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be GLAD ALSO WITH EXCEEDING JOY" (I Peter 4:12-13).
   How contrary to human nature!
   Peter wrote also, "That the trial of your FAITH, being much more PRECIOUS than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:7).
   How PRECIOUS are the trials of a Christian! How necessary how vital to spiritual GROWTH!
   How thankful we should he, for each one of them! You should stop and THANK God for your trials! Give Him praise for being so concerned about YOU!
   But trials HURT, don't they? They bring misery, suffering, heartache and heaviness. How, then, can we ever learn to really REJOICE in them?
   Of course God does not expect us to consider the actual trial the pain or sorrow as joyful. Although the trial itself may bring suffering, we need to realize that the RESULT the FRUIT of the trial is what should cause us to rejoice and be THANKFUL!
   Trials themselves, while we endure them, can cause heaviness and sorrow (I Peter 1:6). The apostle Paul wrote the Hebrews, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, BUT GRIEVOUS" (Heb. 12:11).
   But Paul explained, "Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS unto them which are exercised thereby" (verse 11, last part). Notice! "AFTERWARD"! When the trial is over, good fruit is borne the fruit of patience, faith, humility, and RIGHTEOUSNESS.
   When we consider the wonderful reason why GOD, in His supreme love, gives us trials, we truly should be thankful and REJOICE! Rather than mope in a cloud d GLOOM, we should REJOICE! "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees," the apostle Paul exhorts. Don't be depressed, disillusioned or discouraged. Lift up your head, and praise God for His everlasting concern and mercy!
   PRAISE GOD for giving you a character-building trial!
   This is the attitude you should have! Those who gripe and grumble in their trials are MISSING this vital lesson of character development! They are missing out on the real lessons their trials should teach them.
   Trials help you to become more and more like Jesus Christ in character, in nature, in compassion and love! It is through suffering ourselves that we learn to have COMPASSION on others who suffer! We can sympathize with others who have trials, because we ourselves have had them! We know what they are like! We have been through them, ourselves!

More Precious than Gold

   How many more trials did Christ have than you? How much more suffering did He go through? He bore the griefs of ALL people on His shoulders. Rejected, despised, spit upon, beaten and bloodied, mocked and ridiculed, and finally, after all that, nailed to a stake and crucified!
   Consider what He went through, for YOU and be thankful!
   Yes, be THANKFUL for your trials! Remember what the apostle Paul wrote, "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Remember, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12). Remember, as David wrote, "MANY are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19). 
   Learn to EXPECT trials. Do not be surprised when they come. Realize how VITAL they are to your spiritual growth. Thank God for them rejoice in them and commit them into God's hands, trusting Him for deliverance from them, according to His mercy and compassion!

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Good News MagazineApril 1969Vol XVIII, No. 4
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