Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Truth About Trials

Sir! Suffering identified! Bearing 311 degrees and moving in fast!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, ~James 1:2

Pastor began his message this past Sunday with a statement I believe to be true and a wake up call for us all.

“Trials are common ground for all of us.”

Every single human being from Adam onward without exception has faced trials, trouble, suffering, sorrow, and pain. It is, without a doubt, an experience all of humanity shares in regardless of race, gender, or social status. If you are not experiencing a trial right now, the next one is already on the horizon. Here in this second verse of chapter one, James points out the certainty of trials... they are not just possible, but inevitable. The question for us, as Christians, is “How are we going to react to it, how will we face it?”

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. ~Acts 16:19-22

After preaching the Gospel and freeing a young woman from demon possession, Paul and Silas are arrested, accused, and assaulted. They were taken to the local government in Philippi and sentenced to a vicious beating and imprisonment.

And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. ~Acts 16:23,24

I would rate being stripped, beaten with rods, chained up, and thrown into prison as a first rate trial! Here we have two Christian men doing what God calls all of us to do and as a result of preaching the Gospel, they are treated like this. I pondered how I would have reacted to this mistreatment. How would I have handled this sort of trial? Would I have blamed God and become bitter? Note with me how Paul and Silas reacted.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, Acts 16:25

I remember reading this passage for the first time as a new Christian and thinking:

“Don’t these guys know they are in big trouble?”

I know... I know... Later the Philippian jailer and his family get saved and we all say Paul and Silas' imprisonment was worth it, but couldn't God have saved the man and his family some other way? Did their salvation have to come at the end of a beating and leg irons? Was the trial necessary? The truth is God brings trials into our lives. What we don't want to forget is the trials and the sufferings are not purposeless! The beating and arrest for Paul and Silas was not pointless; our trials and sufferings are not pointless.

Pastor talked to us about how God brings these trials into our lives for a reason, a divine purpose. He gave us three:

1. Trials test the quality of our faith.
2. Trials bring us to God.
3. Trials develop enduring strength.

I am looking forward to hearing more about how God brings unexpected, but purposeful trials into our lives, and hearing more from God through His servant James on this matter.

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