How Should I Respond to the Trials of Life?
A guest post by Drew Suttles.
Trials of life are inevitable and in many cases unavoidable. The Bible does not shy away from the fact that suffering is a part of life.
Job, a man who suffered immensely at the expense of Satan’s sick hatred for righteousness, said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
The apostle Paul, a man who faced multiple physical, emotional, and even spiritual battles, wrote, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
It is not what happens to us that defines us, but how we respond to adversity that reveals our true character. James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing it can produce patience or endurance” (Jas. 1:2-4) while Peter proclaims that “the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
Since trials are a part of life, even for children of God, how should we respond?
Psalm 66 and the trials of life.
I invite you Psalm 66. In this particular psalm, we learn the value of suffering and how to develop the proper perspective. This is a psalm of praise directed toward God in view of His awesome works and steadfast love for His people.
Consider what is said in the middle of this Psalm:
“For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psa. 66:10-12).
God allows suffering to occur.
First, notice that God allows suffering to take place. There are those in the world who suggest that God does not exist because suffering exists. One may even say, “If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, then the fact that evil and suffering exists means that He does not.”
God is omniscient (all-knowing) (Psa. 139), omnipotent (all-powerful) (Eph. 3:20), and omnibenevolent (all-loving) (1 John 4:7-10), and yet allows suffering for our benefit! He allows the trials of life to come our way so our faith can be strengthened and our dependence on Him can increase.
The Psalmist says, “You, O God, have tested us.” Consider how God tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1). Do you think Abraham’s faith was strengthened that day? What about Job who went through the fire and yet came forth as gold (Job 23:10; 1 Pet. 1:7; Jas. 5:11). God did not cause that suffering or bring about any kind of evil (Jas. 1:17), but He did and does allow suffering for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory.
The way that we respond to trials and suffering can bring glory to God and show the world what it looks like to endure (1 Pet. 4:16, 19).
God is active in His people’s lives.
Second, notice that God is active in the lives of His people. The action words in this text are striking. The Psalmist says, “God you have “refined us,” “brought us into the net,” “laid affliction on our backs,” “caused men to ride over our heads,” “we went through fire,” and “we went through water.”
When you consider the history of God’s people, vivid pictures come to mind. Consider the affliction they endured in Egypt (Exo. 1-2), or the captivity of Judah by the hands of Babylon (2 Kin. 24-25).
They went through fire (Dan. 3) and water (1 Cor. 10:1-2). Yet, in all of their trials, God did not leave them and He will not leave His people today (Isa. 43:1-3a)!
God brings rich fulfillment through trials.
Finally, notice that God “brought them to rich fulfillment” (Psa. 66:12b). Again, God allowed and does allow suffering in the lives of His people, but with the right perspective and attitude, one’s faith can be strengthened and one’s spiritual life can mature to be more like Jesus Who suffered the death of the cross for you and me.
The Psalmist closes by saying these precious words: “Blessed be God Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.”
God will never leave or forsake His children (Heb. 13:5-6) and so we need to “be still” and know that He is God and that He will be exalted (Psa. 46:10).
May we all obtain the right perspective to glorify God through whatever life throws our way for, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 1:12).
Drew Suttles is a minister for the Quitman church of Christ in Quitman, Georgia. They live stream all their Bible classes and sermons on their YouTube channel.
Drew also hosts the “Weathering the Storm” podcast on the Scattered Abroad Network. Drew talks about facing life’s challenges as a child of God. His podcast will be a blessing to your life.
Thanks for reading Centered on Christ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.