by Sarah Lee Bryant
There are times in life when we grow wearied by difficulties and trials. Hardships press in against us, and we begin to feel the painful reality of our own weakness and the fleshly urge to stop climbing uphill. We subconsciously think that because of the present difficulties in our journey, we have good reasons to slack off in being faithful in our callings. We even mentally complain that God needs to change our circumstances or lot in life, before we can really progress spiritually.
We daily deal with circumstances that we cannot change, nevertheless, circumstances we thoroughly dislike. If we didn’t have that annoying little brother who aggravates us constantly, we could be patient and kind. If we just knew what the future held, we would know what to do with our life right now to prepare. If that person would have not hatefully hurt us, we would not be so discouraged right now. If all of our friends and family were saved, then we would not face this painful mockery and persecution. If we had not met that young man—or could just marry him tomorrow—then we would be perfectly happy and content right now in singleness. If we had enough money, then we could really do something important in life. You fill in the blank for whatever your current circumstance or wish might be!
No matter what difficulties we face (some legitimate and some imagined)—we do not like trials in any form. And when pain comes, we want to find the fastest route away from it. The furnace hurts.
But you know what, sisters? We are never promised an easy life. No, not even if we are Christians, not even if we love the Lord Jesus, seek Him daily, and obey Him to the best of our ability. We find throughout the Scriptures that even “good” people face great hardships—sometimes hardships even greater than unbelievers face. In fact, we are promised tribulation and afflictions in life. “We should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know” (I Thessalonians 3:4)
So we might wonder, why do we suffer, if we are walking with and honoring the Lord?
We find in God’s Word the amazing answer to this incredibly deep and sometimes difficult question. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “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.”
Suffering is actually one of God’s tools of mercy and kindness toward us. It may seem like a paradox, but think about the good things the Lord does in our lives through these very trials. We are never clinging to Christ more tightly than when every earthly hope has been shattered. We are never more needy for His strength than when we are too weak to even move. We never see His glory and love toward us more sweetly than when we can just simply gaze, in our weakness, up to His loving face.
You see, in our weakness and pain, we experience His sufficiency. We do not wake up asking the Lord for strength each morning to face another day, when we are healthy, youthful, and abounding with energy! We do not cry ourselves to sleep before Jesus every night, when life is doing smoothly and there is not a trial in sight. We do not lean upon the Lord for hourly wisdom on how to respond to unkind remarks when all around us are like-minded and support our stand for Christ.
Personally, the richest times in my spiritual walk with the Lord are when I am facing difficulties or pain. During trials, I lean into my Lord and find Him, oh, so present, sufficient, and loving toward me. I meditate on Him more faithfully in these hours of need, I commune with Him, and I delight in His presence. Truly, I find Jesus to be all I need and begin to thank Him for even these trials that cause me to seek Him more earnestly!
How then do we find strength to continue on faithfully in these trials?
We are human, and we are very apt to grow discouraged as we face trials day in and day out. We want to find a way out of this particular pain right now. One day I was feeling very overcome by various trials, and cried out to the Lord in prayer, Lord, am I really doing the right thing? Why am I facing these hardships? Can You just take them away? I don’t want to keep going; I feel so weary and tired.
In my flesh, I felt like giving up. Is this what being faithful felt like? It sure didn’t seem as “heroic” and amazing as the word sounded! I decided to reach for my Bible. What does God say about faithfulness and endurance?
One of the first verses I read was Proverbs 24:10: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” Immediately, I felt humbled. Here I was, weary and wanting to give up in the midst of the fire. I continued to read…
Hebrews 12:12-13: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
Deuteronomy 20:3b: “Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them.”
Luke 18:b1: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
It became clear to me that I had only one choice—to press forward. God’s Word offers such strength and encouragement to us in each season and situation. It even gave me incredible hope as to the outcome of tribulation…
Romans 5:3: “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
Lastly, I came to James 1:2, which commands, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” Count it all joy? This is not a joyous situation, but I am told to account it joy (impute joy to it). Why? James continues, “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.”
That I may be perfect and entire—lacking nothing. What incredible promises God gives us. He has not promised to take suffering or trials away from us—but He promises great hope in the midst of them and even as a result of them. He is working good in us through these painful things. He is producing patience in us through these unpleasant circumstances. And He is sanctifying us and making us more like Jesus and more ready to receive the eternal weight of glory one day that we will partake of in heaven.
Wow. I felt quite small as I read these incredible passages. These truths made my earthly trials seem so small—and even glorious in light of eternity! These very things are working for me a crown in heaven. These “10 minute afflictions” are producing a “billion year reward”—eternal crown of glory! II Corinthians 4:17: says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Our trials are not accidents and they are not bad.
Our trials today—whatever it might be that you or I face today that comes across as unpleasant to us—are not accidents. We need to stop viewing them as “bad.” Yes, we do face sin and sin’s fruit each day, and in this sense they are bad. But, according to Romans 8:28, God is able to work these “bad” things for “good” in our lives, because we love Him!
So that bad situation—you fill in the blank for what that trial is for you today—God has selected it just for you to face today. No accidents about it. And therefore, He will also grant grace for you to be able to face it with a Christ-like attitude, and to press on faithfully and obediently. Our God is incredible, and it never ceases to encourage me to press on with Him, when I stop and think about this.
He carves out our trials to suit us, to hit our specific weaknesses, and to reveal our individual sins and failures to ourselves. We see more of who we are and how we need Him. You and I are probably facing something completely different today—however, the Lord has gently selected the very specific trials you and I will face today. Think of this in the immediate sense…in the daily, small, hourly trials or emotional struggles that come.
Hurtful words (again) from someone we love. Sinful actions that inconvenience us greatly. Sickness that inhibits us from an active lifestyle. Instead of complaining about the day’s trials as if they are an accident, we can take them as straight from the Lord—realizing He is trying to work in us more patience and more endurance through these particular situations.
We are called to be faithful no matter what.
Doing what is right before the Lord and walking in His commands is not easy. It often requires going against the flow. Let’s admit it—we all enjoy being around other believers at church, conferences, or like-minded gatherings. However, in “normal daily life,” we must face the world, which opposes God and drinks iniquity like water. No matter who we are around or what opposition we face, we must be faithful and obedient to the Lord.
Our Lord is so merciful. He does not leave us alone to walk rightly. He knows it is difficult, and offers countless promises and comfort to us as we walk obediently and faithfully. We are commanded to “Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” (II Chronicles 15:7) Our God is mighty, and is not slack concerning His promises toward us. II Corinthians 4:16: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” I encourage you to do a study of the promises God has given in His Word regarding those who are afflicted. Here is a tiny list of verses to start with:
- Deuteronomy 4:7
- Psalm 46:1
- Psalm 145:18
- Isaiah 43:1-2
- Isaiah 63:9
- Micah 7:7,9
- Matthew 18:20
Lest we grow weary, we have been given an Example!
It is amazing that the Lord does not simply give us commands to be faithful and endure even unto death—as if God up in Heaven does not understand what these trials feel like to us as humans.
No, His own Son came into this world and faced these trials Himself. We have a High Priest Who in ALL points was tempted and tried as we are (Hebrews 4:15). Don’t ever feel like the Lord does not understand your current pain or grief. Not for one moment. Have you ever read Isaiah 63:9: “In all their affliction he was afflicted”? He feels our afflictions with us!
The Lord Jesus, the Lord of Glory, endured all, thus we are given this most glorious command in Hebrews 12:3—“Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Sisters, the Lord knows our weaknesses. Jesus Christ Himself faced a painful, trial-filled and afflicted life. He learned obedience by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). And He suffered and strove even unto blood against sin (Hebrews 12:4).
So we are commanded to CONSIDER Christ, lest we grow weary. Consider Him Who faced evil, hurtful men throughout His entire earthly life, Who was mocked, persecuted even unto death, Who hung upon that Cross in agony, Who bore mankind’s sin and filth, Who was rejected by His own beloved Father, and Who went to the grave to redeem His people (Isaiah 53). Consider the blood that ran down His head and His body as He died a most horrific and painful death. Consider Him, Whose friends all fled and even denied Him. Consider Him, Who is the very Son of Glory Who holds the whole universe—stooping to such a station as that of the shameful Cross. Who arose from the grave, conqueror forevermore over sin and death! The Lamb of God – victor and conqueror forevermore!
Dear sisters, I want to encourage you to press on. Do not grow weary, for in due time, you will reap if you faint not (Galatians 6:9). Yes, these earthly trials we face are real. We do not need to try to deny this. But we also cannot deny the truth, that if we are Christ’s, nothing shall separate us from His love (Romans 8) and He is using even all these things for our good. There is SO much comfort found when we can simply rest in peace, knowing that we are not forgotten by the Lord and these very trials are not an accident, but a very sign of His tender love for us (Hebrews 12:6).
Today, let us consider Jesus, and not grow weary!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
-Sarah Lee Bryant