Overcoming Tests, Trials, and Troubles
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).
Today, there are many faithful Christians who are going through various hardships. We too go through various problems and challenges. These tests or trials may come from the world, Satan, or allowed by God. For the faithful Christian, such trials might be the result of following and trusting God, and their purpose is to prove our faith, as was the case of Job (Job 1:1-22). However, many trials are also the result of our disobedience to God’s commands and the wrong choices we make that breed dire consequences. To many people, this is a time of discouragement and frustration, and perhaps even rebellion from God as they begin to question whether God really cares about them, or whether He even really exists. While we do not have all the answers as to why trials come and bad things happen to us, we take refuge in God’s Word and seek Him for answers, assurance, hope, and deliverance. We can also rest in the promise that although many trials, tests, distress, adversity, and afflictions may come, the Lord is faithful to deliver us from ALL of them (Psalm 34:17; 19).
As indicated in the opening Scripture above, the Lord Jesus did not promise us that we will always have a “prosperous”, “fun” and “easy time” in this world, contrary to what many of the popular, material-driven, prosperity preachers claim nowadays. As a matter of fact, the Lord bluntly warned us to be prepared for trials if we obediently follow Him instead of blending in with the world (John 15:18-21). As children of God, we will drink from the Lord’s cup of suffering (Mark 10:38-39; John 18:11), and we are called to overcome to the very end, just as He did (Revelation 2:10; Luke 23:34). He was approached with swords and clubs like a robber (Luke 22:52), betrayed and denied by His close friends (Luke 22:48; 55-57), mocked and beaten (Luke 22: 63-65), hated (John 15:18; 24-25), insulted (1 Peter 2:23), spat on, slapped, and struck (Matthew 26:67), and publicly humiliated (Acts 8:33). He endured great agony (Luke 22:44; Matthew 26:37-39), and although those who did Him wrong showed no remorse, He loved and forgave them and laid down His life for them too (Luke 23:34; Romans 5:8). We are likewise called to love and bless those who mistreat us (Luke 6:28; 35). Dear brethren, if these are the things the Lord Jesus Christ was overcoming all the way to the end of His life on earth, this should encourage us to emulate His example, especially as we see the love of many people growing colder and lawlessness increasing.
The Lord’s Words indeed are true. In the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, we see many righteous people who went through severe trials and tests.
- Joseph: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him and they mistreated him (Genesis 37:18-36). As a slave in Egypt, he was a diligent and honest worker who earned his master’s trust. As a result of his faithfulness to God, his master’s wife lied and falsely accused him of assault after he refused to surrender to her seductions. Joseph was unjustly thrown into prison, where he languished for over two years (Genesis 39:1-23).
- Moses: Moses was rejected by his own people (Exodus 2:14) and had to abandon all his royal privileges and flee to Midian, where he ended up working for forty years as a shepherd (a very humble and lowly profession) for his father-in-law. Even after God called him at the age of eighty, trials followed him. Overwhelmed, wearied and stressed out by the people’s complaining and whining, he prayed for The Lord to mercifully kill him (Numbers 11:15).
- Naomi: Naomi lost both her husband and two sons, and returned to her homeland Israel pretty much empty-handed, feeling hopeless and helpless. She wanted to be called “Mara,” which means bitter (Ruth 1:20-21).
- Job: Unknown to Job, the devil engineered a wicked scheme that resulted in Job losing all his material possessions and his children all suddenly died under a barrage of the enemy’s attacks. All that was left to him was a sickly body, a critical wife, and friends who blamed him for his woes (Job 1:13-18; 2:7-9).
- David: David was not only looked down upon in his family but even after he began serving in King Saul’s palace, the king hated him and attempted to kill him (1 Samuel 19:9-12). He subsequently spent several years running for his life. After ascending to the throne, his daughter was violated and one of his sons tried to dethrone him (2 Samuel 15).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: These three believers were persecuted and thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to idolatry (Daniel 3:1, 14-16).
- God’s Prophets: The Bible says that all of God’s prophets went through trials and were persecuted (Acts 7:52). For example, Elijah had to flee from Jezebel and was so discouraged that he wanted to die because he had had enough (1 Kings 19:1-3); Jeremiah was imprisoned and thrown into a dark dungeon (Jeremiah 37:14-38; 38:5-6); Daniel was persecuted and thrown into the lion’s den for worshiping God (Daniel 6:16-17);
- Paul and the apostles: Paul and the apostles suffered many tests and trials, including beatings, sickness, and imprisonment (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
All the aforementioned people, plus several others not mentioned, faced severe trials and tests. So, we can agree that trials are not new, and you are not the only going through trials right now, and neither will you be the last one. As long as we are in this physical body and before the Lord Jesus Christ returns, we should expect troubles… increasingly terrifying troubles as a matter of fact, “a time of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8), when “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:11 NKJV).
Trials are Temporary
The Bible clearly indicates that trials are not a permanent state of affairs, but are just temporary and confined to this world because “the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10 NIV)… “for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV). As believers, we should not be anxious about anything but continue to pray and give thanks to God (Philippians 4:6-7). Our help comes from God and our strength is in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:13), with our hope fixed on heaven (Hebrews 11:6). For this reason, many of God’s people who went through trials as mentioned in the Bible attained victory in the end, and are counted among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:1-40). They trusted in God to overcome (1 John 4:4), and the Lord, in His faithfulness, did not forsake them or abandon them (Deuteronomy 31:6):
- Joseph trusted in God’s Word and promises, and therefore persevered all the way to the end of his life, forgiving his brothers and giving God glory (Genesis 50:20).
- Moses gained favor in the sight of God, and “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11 NIV).
- God healed Naomi’s bitterness, and restored her hope – she received a “guardian-redeemer,” who would “renew [her] life and sustain [her] in [her] old age”. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, also became an ancestor of Israel’s kings (Ruth 4:14-16), including The King of Kings (Matthew 1:1, 5-6).
- The Lord restored Job’s losses and blessed him “more than his beginning”(Job 42:12-17), and in the New Testament, he is presented as an example of one whose patience and perseverance should be emulated by Christians (James 5:7-11).
- Despite David’s trials and shortcomings, through perseverance and obedience, he finally triumphed, with God calling him “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
- God spared the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and they obtained favors and promotions (Daniel 2:48-49; Daniel 3:30).
- Paul and the apostles endured their trials, which encouraged them to depend on God even more (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
- Through the trials of The Lord’s prophets, their writings revealed God’s plans, promises, and their experiences continue to encourage billions of people today.
Just like the Bible characters mentioned above and other faithful believers who have gone before us, we should “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV), being encouraged that trials are only temporary and God’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). If you are tempted to give up, give in, or “end it all”, please stand firm and “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NKJV) – “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV).
Furthermore, The Bible encourages us to “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4 NKJV). Why should we count it all joy? Because “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 NIV).
Whatever trial you are going through, please do not give up on your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and/or backslide, because you might end up worse off! “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20 NIV).
The right response to trials is to endure/persevere, and we should not give up on our faith even unto death. We should be “…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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV).
Overcoming Tests and Trials
The Bible says: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4 NIV). We understand children of God worldwide are experiencing trials, temptations, and distress in their lives during these last days. We encourage you to hold on to your faith and stand firm, letting nothing move you (1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 John 5:5). The Lord has encouraged us through His word, reminding us that even though in this world we will have trouble, we should take heart and be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). In Christ, we can have great peace even in the midst of all our troubles (Isaiah 26:3).
It’s worth remembering that for our sake, even while the Lord Jesus Christ cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV), He endured the cross till the end and is now “highly exalted” (Philippians 2:9 NKJV). He endured and was glad that we may inherit eternal life. We are called to be like Him and to follow His example, that is to have His mind in us (Philippians 2:5-11). Even though we all have a cross to carry – our unique sets of troubles, trials, and tribulations – the Lord says “…I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:19 NIV). He has surely not left us alone but in His great mercy and grace, He is ever delivering us from our enemy and foe, the devil (Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 54:7; 59:9-10; 69:18).
Whatever circumstances we go through, God’s promise that He has great plans for us remains true (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Therefore, keep seeking the Lord in prayer, Bible reading, and worship daily. When things are good and when things do not look good, still remember He is always there with you (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19). We should seek Him no matter how we feel or in whatever state we are: when we fall short, when we are tired, when we are sick, when we are hurt and when we discouraged. Whatever excuse the enemy gives us to discourage us and hinder us, we must strive to enter the narrow path which the Lord Jesus said many will try to enter and will not be able to (Luke 13:24)!
This is also the time to make choices to let go and forgive, love, care for, give, speak well of, bless and do as the Holy Spirit leads (Galatians 5:16-18). As we love and obey the Lord, He will rescue us from every evil attack and will bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18). Jesus Christ has also given us “authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19 NIV).
Bearing Good Fruit Under Trials
Although we’re called to be joyful in trials, most of us have not grown to react joyfully while under trials (James 1:2). I (Abes) remember a time when I was going through a tough trial and began to feel anxious and helpless about my future. I began to lose appetite and was constantly looking sad. An old Christian man, a friend whom I highly respected, shared the story of a man who was carrying baggage on his shoulders, waiting for someone to give him a ride to his final destination. After waiting for a long time, the man continued carrying the baggage and it was weighing him down, but he still wouldn’t put it down. Finally, someone passed by in a pick-up truck and offered him a ride. The man hopped onto the back of the vehicle but still continued to carry the baggage instead of placing it down and getting some rest. My friend rebuked me that I was acting like that man! This prompted me to examine myself and, and it was true that I was persistently praying and pleading with the Lord for a breakthrough, yet I was not truly trusting God and letting go of my worries and fears! I made the decision to surrender all my worries and fears to the Lord regarding my future, and sure enough, the Lord soon answered my prayers and opened one door after another, after another.
Trials and troubles are opportunities to trust God in prayer, obedience, and fruit bearing. They are occasions to be loving, joyous, patient, peaceful, humble, kind, gentle, faithful, merciful, long-suffering, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22) as we look forward to God’s victory. Are you exuding these fruits when your business fails, you’ve been diagnosed with a disease, your children are being disobedient, your marriage is going through a rough spot, you’re lacking finances, or you’ve been mistreated by someone? We are called to persevere and “…glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV). In all trials, the Lord also says “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19 NKJV).
In our personal trials, we have now learned that it is important to remain patient, prayerful and joyful, and to worship the Lord, seeking emotional breakthroughs and not succumbing to fear. We also often fast and pray for a few days when we are desperate for help, while receiving Scriptural encouragement and guidance as we daily read the Word. This has resulted in many breakthroughs and victories, as well as lots of lessons learned and the Lord delivers us from the schemes of the enemy who is bent on stealing, killing, and destroying (John 10:10).
In overcoming temptations, the Bible says “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” (James 1:12 NKJV). As we have been sounding the alarm in the last few articles (A Discerning Heart and Testing of Spirits, Spiritual Abuse – Part 1 and Part 2), be on guard against the crafty end-time temptations to commit idolatry and be unfaithful to God (Colossians 3:5). We are called not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Finally, brothers and sisters, let us rejoice in hope, be patient in afflictions and tribulations, and continue steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12). In whatever tests, trials, tribulations, temptations, you may be going through, remember to stand firm in The Lord’s promises that if we follow and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ:
- In Him, we are overcomers, and nothing can separate us from God’s love in Him (Romans 8:37-39).
- The Lord will save us; even if we face death on earth, the Lord will eternally save us (Revelation 2:11; Psalm 31:23; 34:22).
- He has great blessings for us in Heaven when we overcome, to restore us into fellowship and eternal friendship with Him (Revelation 2:7; 17; Psalm 33:12).
- With His Help, we will one day adoringly proclaim “You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes” (Psalm 54:7).
Have you been bearing bad fruit in times of trial? Do you want to be an overcomer in Jesus Christ? Are you willing to allow God’s abundant grace to fill you today? Whatever trial you are going through, please keep trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that His grace is sufficient for you, for His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Instead of trying to use sleep, alcohol, worldly entertainment, or another false refuge to drown or mask your sorrow and sadness, humbly seek the Lord in prayer that you may overcome temptations (Luke 22:45-46). Allow the Lord Jesus Christ to be all that you need to endure and overcome all your trials and tribulations.
If you would like to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to start with this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, please feel free contact us.
Abes and Janet.