Enduring Life's Trials
Human suffering has been around since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:16-19). The causes are many: sin, accidents, illnesses, wars, violation of natural laws, hatred, persecution, jealousy, betrayal of confidence, death, etc. All people experience it to some degree and in various ways. There is no escaping it in this life. Some people are overcome by it, some are embittered by it, and some become stronger through it. How suffering affects us is determined by our understanding it and by our response to it.
Though we may not always understand the cause of specific suffering, there is considerable understanding available to us, and it can help us immensely in our facing life's trials. A major source of suffering is the Devil's work. Remember that Job's afflictions came from Satan and were a test of Job's faith. Remember the sufferings of Elijah, Micaiah, and Jeremiah as the work of the enemies of the Lord. James said, "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience" (James 5:10). If we consider any trial or suffering as a test of our faith, and if we determine that we will not allow it to defeat us, we can be strengthened by it; and we can learn the precious and necessary lessons of patience by it. That is why James said, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2,3). Because of understanding, Peter and John could rejoice when they had been jailed and beaten for preaching Christ (Acts 5:41).
Sickness and death are often hard to understand, and many times people blame God or sometimes themselves. The death of Job's children was the work of Satan. It was not because of any sin of Job, nor was it his fault. The blindness of the man in John 9 was not the result of his sin or the sin of his parents, but it served a useful purpose -- that God's works be manifest. Whether sickness or death is caused by one's own misdoing or by an unknown source, one can turn that stone of trial into a stepping stone by gaining a stronger faith and greater determination and patience. Rather than viewing life as a struggle that we are ultimately going to lose, we ought to view life as a struggle that we must and are going to win -- even in death itself.
There is only one way that we can win the struggle of life. That way is through the strength of the Lord (Eph. 6:l0-20). Only by our properly preparing ourselves through humble submission and obedience to God can we expect to be victorious. That includes godly living and faithful worship and service to Him. If we want to be united with the faithful of all ages when our lives are finished, we must prepare to meet our God. That we will stand before Him in judgment is certain. That we can hear Him say, "Well done" is also certain. We can be "more than conquerors through Him Who loved us" (Rom. 8:35-37). The decision of whether we win or lose is ours. God has made that possible. What will you do with your life?
By Gilbert Alexander-- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia, June 20, 2004
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