Follow Jesus through Your Trials|
From time to time, we hear stories of people who suffer tremendous losses. Some people lose their life's savings due to bad investments or scams. Others suffer a fire or a natural disaster such as a flood or a tornado that destroys all of their possessions. Even worse, sometimes a person loses his whole family in a car accident or some other tragedy. How do people cope with such hardship? Some are devastated by the loss of their possessions, and the thought of starting over is too much for them. Others who lose their possessions are happy just to be alive and to have their families safe. Those who lose their loved ones can be left in despair, pain, and loneliness.
Although few of us will suffer such complete tragedies as these, the fact is that hardship will come to all of us. Unless the Lord comes first, the infirmities of increasing age and the certainty of death will affect each one of us and our loved ones, or else accidents or disease will multiply suffering and perhaps bring life to an early end. Furthermore, most of us will face some type of loss in material things and even broken relationships. How will we deal with these?
Our greatest concern in the prospect of hardship and loss is the preservation of our faith in Christ. The trials of life present challenges to our faith, and we must be ready to meet them. Rather than lamenting over perceived injustices or blaming God for our hardships, we need to draw closer to Him and cling to our faith. Consider James 1:2-4:
2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Knowing that trials, hardships, and losses are likely to come, it is best to prepare for they before them arrive. How will you pass the test of your faith so that you may be perfect, i.e., complete? If you are to succeed, then your best resource is the example of our Lord Jesus.
What if you lost your home and all your possessions? Fires, floods, tornadoes, or even foreclosures can take away almost everything you own. What would you do? Consider Jesus. During His ministry and the last years of His life, Jesus had no real home. Even His hometown rejected Him (Matt. 13:54-58). At one point, He told a scribe, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 18:20). Nevertheless, Jesus trusted in His heavenly Father, saying, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Therefore, adopt the Lord's attitude about temporal things and remember that "we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either" (1Tim. 6:7).
What if you lost your family? Death is not the only cause of separation between family members, for many are separated by distance, circumstances, or strife. What would you do if the people you love most were no longer in your life? Consider Jesus. The Lord's ministry took Him away from His family (Matt. 12:46-49), and His own brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:1-5). Even so, He faithfully carried out His Father's will. Likewise, you must serve your God-given purpose in Christ Jesus even without your family members if necessary.
What if you were betrayed by your closest friends? Broken confidences and disappointments can be utterly discouraging. Would you lose heart? Consider Jesus, whose own disciples turned away from Him. He was sold by Judas for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50), denied three times by Peter (Matt. 26:69-75), and abandoned by all (Matt. 26:56). Even so, He finished His course by dying on the cross, and then He returned to His disciples after His resurrection (Acts 1:1-3). Like Jesus, you must not base your faith in God on the faithfulness of your friends. Even if every friend forsakes you, God will never desert you (Heb. 13:5).
What if you faced the certainty of impending pain and death? Would you be overwhelmed by fear and grief? Consider Jesus, who endured tremendous suffering and the torturous and shameful death of crucifixion (Matt. 27:26-50). In the midst of His trials, He "kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1Pet. 2:23). Likewise, as you stand on death's door, put your trust in God, knowing that in Christ you have the hope of eternal life to be awarded to you at the Judgment (Rom. 2:7, 10).
None of us knows when the trials of our faith may come, but all of us can prepare ourselves to face them right now. Your world may be turned upside down tomorrow, so you need to be ready today. Determine in your heart now and forever that you will sanctify Christ as Lord regardless of what occurs (1Pet. 3:15). Stay faithful to God, and trust that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Follow the Lord's example, and you will succeed.
Stacey E. Durham
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