When Trials Come

Notice that the title of this post says “when” not “if.” Maybe this will be a newsflash for some of you (but I highly doubt it): Christians will face trials.

Even the apostle James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). Wait, trials are “an opportunity for great joy”? How can that be?!

→ Trials teach us lessons that we can learn in no other way! ←

How much more mature, and wise, and empathetic would we become if instead of trying to get out of the trials that come our way, we would instead see what we could get out of that trial!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. (Romans 5:3-5)

“When trials come we can try to get out of them, or we can learn to get something out of them.”

—Craig T. Owens

So the next time a trial comes your way, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what lessons you can learn by going through the trial.

Uphill Or Downhill?

…And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

Paul is in prison, yet he tells his friends that he is choosing to rejoice. Wow! 

Not only that, but this same imprisoned man also reminds his friends to…

  • … let their joy in Jesus overflow 
  • … conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
  • … continue to have a servant’s attitude like Jesus
  • … don’t give in to complaining or arguing 
  • … look out for the interests of other people 
  • … rejoice in the Lord
  • … don’t rest on their laurels
  • … forget the past and press on toward the future 

John Maxwell has noted that most people have uphill dreams but downhill habits. That is definitely not a winning combination! 

Paul is making his friends aware of the possible downhill habits that may hold them back from their uphill dreams, and using himself as an example. This first step—awareness—is vital if we are going to break free of the things that are pulling us away from our God-given dreams. 

Solomon wrote, “The path of life leads UPWARD for the prudent to keep them from GOING DOWN to the realm of the dead” (Proverbs 15:24). 

Being prudent is saying, “I’m always on the lookout for what’s best.” 

None of us can go UP by ignoring our downhill habits, or even trying to coast through life. The only way to achieve our uphill dreams is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our downhill habits so that we can make a plan to turn those around. 

Check out these characteristics that Paul shares—

Downhill Habit              Uphill Habit
Complaining                    Rejoicing (4:4)
Selfishness                      Gentleness (4:5)
Worrying                         Praying (4:6a)
Grumbling                       Giving thanks (4:6b)
Fixing it myself                Giving it to God (4:6c)
Idle thoughts                   Thinking about my thinking (4:8)
Making my own way         Getting a mentor / partner (4:9)
Being discontent              Being content (4:11-12)
Trying to be self-made     Striving to be Christ-reliant (4:13)

A good prayer for all of us who have uphill dreams that we want to achieve—Holy Spirit, reveal to me my downhill habits. I acknowledge that I need Your help to see and break these habits. Then help me to replace them with Christ-honoring uphill habits that will allow me to achieve the purpose God has for my life.

Poetry Saturday—Where The Roses Never Fade

I am going to a city where the streets with gold are laid
Where the tree of life is blooming and the roses never fade.
Here they bloom but for a season—soon their beauty is decayed
But I am going to a city where the roses never fade. 

In this world we have our troubles, satan’s snares we must evade
We’ll be free from all temptation where the roses never fade.
Here they bloom but for a season—soon their beauty is decayed
But I am going to a city where the roses never fade. 

Loved one gone to be with Jesus in their robes of white arrayed
Now are waiting for my coming where the roses never fade.
Here they bloom but for a season—soon their beauty is decayed
But I am going to a city where the roses never fade. —variously attributed to Elsie Osborn, Jack Osborn, or Jim Miller (the handwritten copy is from Russell Coffield, my wife’s grandfather, and was read at his funeral) 

10 More Quotes From “Jesus Always”

Sarah Young beautifully weaves together passages from the Bible to help us hear Jesus talking to us in the first person. Check out my review of Jesus Always by clicking here. 

“‘Rejoice always’ [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. When your mind is going down an unpleasant, gloomy path, stop it in its tracks with this glorious command. See how many times each day you can remind yourself to rejoice. … These joyful thoughts will light up both your mind and your heart, enabling you to find more pleasure in your life. Choosing to rejoice will bless you and those around you.” 

“You definitely need Me as your shield. I protect you from many dangers—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sometimes you’re aware of My protective work on your behalf, but I also shield you from perils you never even suspect. Find comfort in this assurance of My powerful presence watching over you. Fear no evil, My cherished one, for I am with you.” 

“The Trinity, comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a great gift to you; it is also a mystery far beyond your comprehension. This blessing of three Persons in One greatly enriches your prayer life. You can pray to the Father in My name; you can also speak directly to Me. And the Holy Spirit is continually available to help you with your prayers.” 

“Although many of your prayers are not yet answered, you can find hope in My great faithfulness. I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. … I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.” 

“Living in this very broken world requires bravery on your part. Since bravery is not the default setting in most human hearts, you will need My help to be strong and courageous.” 

“I have infinite power, so ‘impossibilities’ are My specialty. I delight in them because they display My glory so vividly.” 

“No matter how you’re feeling, remember that you are not on trial. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me—those who know Me as Savior. You have already been judged ‘Not guilty!’ in the courts of heaven.” 

“Your best preparation for the journey ahead is practicing My presence each day. … Trust Me—your Guide— to show you the way forward as you go step by step. I have a perfect sense of direction, so don’t worry about getting lost. Relax in My presence, and rejoice in the wonder of sharing your whole life with Me.” 

“As the world grows increasingly dark, remember that you are the light of the world. Don’t waste energy lamenting bad things over which you have no control. Pray about these things, but refuse to let them haunt your thoughts. Instead, focus your energies on doing what you can to brighten the place where I have put you. Use your time, talents, and resources to push back the darkness. Shine My light into the world!”

“Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others. I am here to help you untangle your complex problems…. Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don’t let them be your focus. My presence in the present is your portion.” 

Weeping And Rejoicing

“First, I would bid you stand and see the place where the Lord lay with emotions of deep sorrow. O come, my beloved brother, thy Jesus once lay there. He was a murdered man, my soul, and thou the murderer.

‘Ah, you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were,
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear.’
‘Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?’

“I slew Him—this right hand struck the dagger to His heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved: I killed Him who loved me with an everlasting love. Ye eyes, why do ye refuse to weep when ye see Jesus’ body mangled and torn? Oh! give vent to your sorrow, Christians, for ye have good reason to do so…. My soul was drowning. From heaven’s high portals He saw me sinking in the depths of hell. He plunged in.

‘He SANK beneath His heavy woes,
To raise me to a crown;
There’s ne’er a gift His hand bestows.
But cost His heart a groan.’

“Ah! we may indeed regret our sin, since it slew Jesus.

“Now, Christian, change thy note a moment. ‘Come, see the place where the Lord lay,’ with joy and gladness. He does not lie there now. Weep, when ye see the tomb of Christ, but rejoice because it is empty. Thy sin slew Him, but His divinity raised Him up. Thy guilt hath murdered Him, but His righteousness hath restored Him. Oh! He hath burst the bonds of death; He hath ungirt the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath His feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for He is not there—He is risen.” —Charles Spurgeon 

Saturday In The Psalms—A Sabbath Psalm

A psalm. A song for the Sabbath day (preface to Psalm 92).

The Sabbath is—

  • a day of reflection
  • a day of rejoicing
  • a day of reconnecting
  • a day of meditating on past blessings
  • a day of strengthening for the upcoming week
  • a day of acknowledging the Creator
  • a day of appreciating creation
  • a day of assessing the investment of my God-given talents
  • a holy day—different from all other days

So … “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night” (vv. 1, 2).

Sabbath is not just a noun, but a verb—sabbathing—something that can be done every day, but something which also takes on special significance for the one day each week that we set aside as our holy day or worship and reflection. 

The Creator’s works and wisdom should be pondered and praised as we sabbath (vv. 4-6), something “a fool” doesn’t take time to do.

As we sabbath, we should confess to God—and then turn over to Him—those things which have overly preoccupied our minds (vv. 7-9).

We should recommit that the place of growth and blessing is in God’s presence (v. 13) as we endeavor to keep our hearts there. And then we can be energized and joy-filled as we contemplate His blessing which never diminishes nor grows old (vv. 14, 15).

Truly sabbathing is a good thing!

Do you have a Sabbath day? Do you find time to regularly sabbath in God’s presence? 

The Power In Rejoicing

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:4, 6).

Paul isn’t playing around here—when he says to rejoice, it’s not a suggestion or a good idea. He says REJOICE with the force of a commandment!

Even the Greek word for rejoice isn’t a mild “yea!” It carries with is the idea of big joy! It’s the kind of rejoicing that is…

  • exceedingly great!
  • overflowing!
  • bubbling up!
  • never ending!
  • continuously gushing!

Why would Paul make this kind of rejoicing a command? Because God is serious about pointing us to the only path that will guard our hearts and minds. When we are rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving, then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Do you realize how much of our worrying is pointless? My friend Scott pointed out the following research:

  • 40% of the things we worry about will never even happen
  • 30% of the things we worry about happened in the past and cannot be changed
  • 12% of our worries are regarding health issues we don’t even have
  • 10% of our worries are about our friends and loved ones which are based on rumors

That means … only 8% of the things we worry about have any basis in reality!

Think about that—9 out of 10 things that consume our minds with worry aren’t even worth our time!

That’s why Paul commands rejoicing as a means to freedom and peace.

  • What should we worry about? Nothing! 
  • What should we pray about? Everything!
  • What should rejoice about? All things!  

This is the one and only path to transcendent peace! 

This is part two in our series The Antidote For Anxiety. Be sure to check out the video below, and also check out the first part of this series—Honk! Honk! Honk!

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