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Trials And Tribulations

Per request.

We all must endure them and there is no way around them. What am I talking about? Personal trials. I know I have been through some real tough ones and failed one big one long, long ago. I know that no Christian can get into the kingdom, unless he was saved on his deathbed, without going through trials and perhaps some tribulations.

First of all, let me say this clearly. There are no ABC's, no checklist and no 'easy list of ways to get through a trial' booklets that are going to work 100% of the time. There are many different kinds of trials, tests and trouble we must go through. Those looking for a manual on how to pass a trial, speed up the process so it ends quicker or how to pass with flying colors if you just follow these steps... well... you are going to be disappointed. Mainly because in many trials, as with Job's we are not always given the reason why we are  being tried. Often we just have to endure them. At times as he did with me, he gave me the purpose of what he was going to do without telling me how he was going to do it, many months before he did it. It was via a trial, but without that Trial I probably would never have realized how evil and dangerous some of the people I was associated with were. One thing the Lord did tell me before hand was this - the best friend you can have is in Jesus Christ. The implication was, in the future lean on him and no one else. I knew then that God was going to strip away some people out of my life and he was behind it and I was not resist it, but welcome it.

I say this so that you may know one thing. That God is in control of the 'trial process' in our lives. If you are going through one, it's because God has either allowed it or directed it. I say again, if you are going through one, God has allowed it. Don't get upset with God. Rather try and find out what it is he is wants you to do, if anything. Are you in sin? Have you been wandering from the paths of life, spending too much time with friends and associates who know not God? Are you too wrapped up in your job, your new ride, that new home you just bought? Has it been a while since you really prayed to the Lord? Sometimes our own behavior can elicit the trial process. More often than not, it is other factors usually beyond our control. But one factor that many of us often don't consider is the one I want to talk about today.



Preparation.

One person in our great Biblical history, testament and the witnesses that God has left behind for us in our bibles is King David. Here is a man whom God raised up from nothing to be King. There was one problem with this. David was not ready. Going from shepherd to king, this was a big step and one that he had to be prepared for. This did not take away from the divine Anointing. David was indeed God's anointed, but clearly God was going to send him through some tests to prepare him for rulership over his people. This was in stark contrast to the way Saul was dealt with. He moved right into the Crown without those trails. Look at what happened. He started off OK, but slipped further and further away from trusting in God and finally lost his anointing and his kingdom.

David was going to be different. He was going to have to go through many a trial and tribulation, nearly lose is life, become and exile, a hunted man and fight many a battle before he would sit in the Throne. David was going to have to learn one of the most important lessons one can learn in any trial. That lesson was the same one that the Lord relayed to me before he put me through a trial, that being to lean on the Lord and to not think we know it all or have it all figured out as we saw with Job's miserable comforters. How did Solomon Put it?

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.
Be not wise in thine own eyes:
fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
(Pro 3:5-7)
The wise man then adds these important and oft ignored words quoting this verse.

It shall be health to thy navel,
 and marrow to thy bones.
(Pro 3:8)

The idea here is that such faith in God is good for both a man's spiritual health as well as his physical health.

David had to learn this key lesson. That when the chips are down, he must learn to trust in God. This is a lesson he had ingrained in him over years of serious sometimes life threatening trails.

One of David's first trials was surviving the sin of jealousy. King Saul was jealous of David because he was winning the praise and the hearts of the people. Once that happened, Saul wanted to get rid of David. This may not always be looked upon as a trial by many commentators, but what would you call a king throwing a javelin at you in order to take your life... twice?

And it came to pass as they came,
when David was returned from the slaughter
of the Philistine, that the women came out of
all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet
king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with
instruments of musick. And the women answered
one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain
his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul
was very wroth, and the saying displeased him;
and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and
to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have
more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from
that day and forward. And it came to pass on the
morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul,
 and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and
David played with his hand, as at other times: and
there was a javelin in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the
javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the
wall with it. And David avoided out of his
presence twice.
(1Sa 18:6-11)


We all know the story, David was a mighty warrior and was highly regarded by the people. When you begin to rise high and have a degree of respectability, people will do all they can to denigrate you, humiliate you and destroy you. In this case, the king was way beyond normal jealousy, he wanted to kill David and tried, twice. You know why I never went into politics or went into government service or tried to rise up the corporate ladder? I don't like pedestals and don't want to rise high in man made institutions. Once you do, a thousand people are going to do all they can to pull you down... so they can stand on it themselves.

This is the peril of any person who rises. Kings in particular. Kings in the middle ages often had to fight many wars to fend off pretenders and usurpers. It was a constant problem for men who would be king. But the fact is this and we Christians must get this right if nothing else. We are destined for a Throne, a mighty throne and we who are redeemed and are risen with him shall sit on those thrones. Like David, we are going to have to go through many trials and  tribulations before we can sit on that throne. Many of us will have to give up our lives for our testimony of Jesus Christ. This too is a trial of our faith - an important one. Trials like this are real and they will come and they do so because of the very high place God is preparing for us. Keep in mind that the devil and his host know what God has prepared for us.  They have been to heaven and have stood in the presence of God. God is looking for David's to sit on the throne, not Saul's. David was tested and tried. Saul was not.

This is one key reason for our trials in Christ. They are to teach us and to prepare us and yes, to test us in preparation for what he has in store for us. But also to make sure that when we do get on those thrones, we are faithful to what God would have us do, not to what we want. This too is one of the important aspects of preparatory trials. They are to teach us submission to God's will. They teach us to rely on God and his wisdom and not upon ours. Though we shall be kings we shall also be subservient to God and his son Jesus Christ. It's a lesson that we cannot forget.

When we go through personal trials, this is what we need to always remember. What we suffer here is nothing compared to what God has prepared for us. Absolutely nothing. It will be like nothing we have ever experienced.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, neither have entered into
the heart of man, the things which God hath
prepared for them that love him.
(1Co 2:9)


One of the things we must keep in mind that many of our trials, they are there not because God hates us or is angry, but because he wants to prepare us. James wanted us all to consider our trials a joy!

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.
(Jas 1:2-4)


This is a hard one I think for any of us to understand. For when we are going through trails, there is nothing joyful about it... at all! But yet James is trying to relay something here to us, that these trails are there to mold our character. This is one of the reasons why David went through what he did, God was molding his character and teaching him faith among other things. He knew the prophet anointed him King, yet there he was an exile, a hunted man and one who could be killed in battle any day now. Yet he kept faith, he did not quit and leaned on his God.

David wrote many Psalms when he was going through those trails. Some of them are preserved for us in the book of Psalms, here is one when he had fled before Saul and had to hide in the wilderness.


A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee
in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen
thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness
is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my
 hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as
with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall
praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember
thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
night watches. Because thou hast been my help,
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice
. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand
upholdeth me. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it,
shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword:
they shall be a portion for foxes
 But the king shall rejoice in God;
 every one that sweareth by him shall glory:
but the mouth of them that speak
 lies shall be stopped.
(Psa 63:1-11)


Now take a look at that Psalm. Here is a man who has been run out of the capitol, has is life sought after by the King and what is his attitude. Did he have a pity party? Did he have a whine-a-thon? Nope! David went right on to praise God and give thanks unto him.

Now let me let you in on a secret. God loves it when we praise his name and give thanks. The devil... he absolutely hates it. Once we cease to honor and praise God and cease to give thanks to him, we have handed the devil a major, major victory.  David is a person we need to imitate when we face trials. His mindset? No matter what was going on in his life, how hard things were, he praised God, brought his supplications before him and gave thanks.

No matter the serious issues we face in our jobs, our families, marriages, our ministries our health, our friendships or reputations, know that God see's all and wants us to maintain a strong, unalterable and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. When we adopt an attitude of gratitude and a predisposition of praise, we have taken a major first step on the road to a victory over our trials and situations.

Let us remember this brothers. Our trails are here primarily to prepare us. Yes, also to test us as the devil will stand in accusation over us as he did with Job. But in the broader sense, he is looking for people who are faithful to him and have proved it by going through the fires of trial and temptation and passed the test and kept the faith of Jesus Christ. He is looking for people who love him and he can depend on to help run his kingdom.


Trial Unto Death


Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite
shall not come before him.

(Job 13:15-16)


Job 13:15 should be the verse that any suffering saint should remember during any trial. Weather it be in jail for preaching, on a sickbed, standing in a divorce court with a broken heart as you husband runs off with some homewrecker, being falsely accused by evil men or whatever. The attitude of Job here is one that is remarkable in that despite all that has happened to him and how the devil was doing his utmost to provoke Job to sin against God, Job did not do it, even if God kills him, Job was going to keep his faith in God. This was exactly the test that God allowed to come onto Job from Satan.

How many of you have that kind of faith? I mean really?

When trials come your way, I advise you all to keep Job in mind and realize that God has a purpose for what he is doing. It may not always be clear, but he does have a purpose. How did Peter put it?

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,
 if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
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:
(1Pe 1:6-7)

Job had shown he was passing his trial of faith which is also a trial of trust. Yes, trust, we must entrust our souls to God and his word and this is one reason for many of our trials. That we place out trust fully in God and God alone. Brothers if you are willing to do that no matter what and I do mean that -  no matter what, you will pass any test the Lord sends your way, painful and sorrowful those trials may be. Keep faith with God and he will keep faith with you.

The following verse reiterates the idea that God is Job's salvation. Adam Clarke sums up the idea best.

He also shall be my salvation - He will save me, because I trust in him.

A hypocrite - A wicked man shall never be able to stand before him. I am conscious of this, and were I, as you suppose, a secret sinner, I should not dare to make this appeal. - Clarke
Hear diligently my speech,
and my declaration with your ears.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause;
I know that I shall be justified.
 Who is he that will plead with me? for now,
if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.
Only do not two things unto me: then will I not
hide myself from thee. Withdraw thine hand
 far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.
 Then call thou, and I will answer:
or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
make me to know my transgression
 and my sin.

(Job 13:17-23)



Job here begins a prayer to God and seeks an audience with the Lord. Job has prepared his case (ordered my cause) and he is confident of an acquittal. Job then asks his accusers to step forward (who shall plead with me). The 'give up the ghost' part of the passage has caused some confusion with translators, with varying interpretations of its meaning. I think the Pulpit Commentary sums it up the best.

"Who is he that will plead with me?" i.e. against me, contradicting and disproving what I now so fearlessly assert, viz. my personal integrity. If there is any, let him stand forth and establish his indictment. If be succeed in tarnishing my fair name, "I shall be silent, I shall give up the ghost," feeling that, honour gone, life itself can have no further charm for me. - Pulpit Commentary
The entire section in the Pulpit Commentary is worthy of a  read by all. He lines this up with many instances in the NT where men of God stood before magistrates for preaching the gospel and then reminds us of the words of Paul who said.

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?
It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?
 It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,
who is even at the right hand of God, who also
maketh intercession for us.
(Rom 8:33-34)


In the New Testament, we are already innocent until proven innocent in God's court because Christ has already paid the price for out sins!! Amen. The devil may accuse and try us, but we will always stand acquitted as long as we remain in Christ.

Only do not two things unto me:
then will I not hide myself from thee.
Withdraw thine hand far from me:
 and let not thy dread make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer:
or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
make me to know my transgression and my sin.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face,
and holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro?
and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
For thou writest bitter things against me,
and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks,
and lookest narrowly unto all my paths;
thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.
And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth,
as a garment that is moth eaten.
(Job 13:20-28)

Job here continues his prayer and complaint before the Lord. He asks the Lord to withdraw his hand from him and cease terrifying him. These were Job's requests. These seem to be made so that he could better prepare his case before God and do so without the distraction of his deep sufferings. Once that happens Job will be happy to answer or speak to God about these matters.

Job then directly asks, how have I sinned, when, where show me the evidence. The rest of the passage is all pretty self explanatory. Job here does not claim sinless perfection, he admits that he committed sins in his youth for which he incorrectly assumes God is now punishing him for. He asks why God is pursuing him, as we would put it today, like the Cops chase a serial killer, what have I done? is his question.

What Job has done here is to take his case to God and put his full and unreserved faith in the Almighty. God knows what is best even if we can't see it and what was best for Job was to silence the devils accusations against him and also, if I may extrapolate, ensure that the all the host of heaven knew that Job's love for God was not just because he was blessed exceedingly, but because he truly trusted in his God. This was never explained to Job, but this trial worked in his interest and that of God.

We don't know why we suffer, not always. I can say this, there is a reason for it. God put me through the ringer before because I had some really crappy relationships and was determined that I separate myself from such people. God was most gracious to me and even warned me before hand what he was going to do. I have been through a few trials in my life and some of the things I have learned are these.

Don't get too attached to anything here on earth. Not your job, possessions, family, friends or career. Keep a careful emotional detachment from them as though you may have to walk away from them one day at a moments notice. (Job lost all)

Yet never cease to give thanks to God for what he has given you. Bless God for blessing you and keep a thankful, humble and faithful (loyal) spirit towards the God that we serve.

Never kick a man when he is down, not even your enemies. Don't take cheap shots at them, the Lord may see it and become sore displeased with you and you may have just put your name at the top of the 'trial request' list; people who just can't wait to have the Lord deal with them as he dealt with Job.

Take your walk even in days of trial, one day at a time. Don't get ahead of God and don't anticipate what tomorrow may bring. We don't know, only God does. God forbid, but some of you may be hit by a natural disaster and lose all, or may find a rich Uncle left you a small fortune, or you may find a great Job in South America or lose the one you have now. Brothers we just don't know, but whatever happens we should take whatever God allows into our lives as being for the best, even if it does not seem so to our finite understanding.

Most importantly, when going through a trial, don't charge God foolishly, don't get mad at God. Examine your own life and make any corrections that need to be made, but don't blame God, he is on your side.

And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God, to them who
 are the called according to his purpose.
(Rom 8:28)



I hope this helps you, particularly the reader who asked for something on personal trials. The Lord willing, I will do another section on this in the near future.

God be with all of you in Christ Jesus!

Brother Mark
www.markswatson.com