What do you do when you are faced with various trials, tribulations and difficulties throughout your journey? Weighing the options, you can either fall into the trap, bemoaning your trial of the season and engaging in frivolous matters, potentially exposing yourself to further trials and difficulties; or you can persevere, focusing on God’s goodness and righteousness, steadily making your way to the top of the mountain.
“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
As Christians, we are not promised a life free of suffering and trials. In fact, it is clearly stated that we will have such experiences. However, it is in what we do as a result of these experiences that we grow in our journey and deepen our relationship with God.
In the book of Job, we hear the story of a “blameless” and “upright” man, who has feared God throughout his life and shunned evil (Job 1:1). As the story goes, God has blessed this man with everything he could want or need. Then, Satan challenges God and argues that Job would curse God and turn away from Him if his blessings were taken away from him. God agrees to test Job, and consequently, the enemy kills Job’s children, takes away all his wealth, depletes his livestock and brings sickness to his body. Job is absolutely devastated. However, he did not fall into the trap: He persevered, looking to God for answers and understanding, even when his own friends condemned him and believed he was wicked.
In relation to Job’s story, how many times have we been through a situation or season where we cannot catch a break and cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel? How many times have our own friends and family tried to convince us that we do not have a strong relationship with God? How many times have we been faced with unexpected trials that tried to derail our stability and faith?
Now, it would be very easy for us to be thrown off track with whatever trials and difficulties arise in our lives, complaining about our situation and questioning God’s love for us. However, what if we, like Job, persevered through it all? What if, driven to complete destitution, we looked to God, cried out to Him, praised Him and declared His goodness and righteousness?
Perseverance is key. With any difficult situation or trial we are faced with, we can use it as an opportunity or challenge to simply go deeper with our relationship with God, holding steadfast to our God and giving everything we have to Him. In fact, when we are faced with a trial, we can see it as a wonderful blessing and opportunity to surrender even further in our lives, examining each area of our lives, particularly related to the trial and giving God permission to completely purify our hearts. That way, by choosing perseverance, not only do we come out of the trial with greater character and hope, but we also grow stronger in our relationships with God.
Recently, after what seemed to be a period of a high on the mountain, lost in my own wonderful world with God, basking in His intimacy and love, I was faced with a bit of a trial myself that completely tried to bring me off track. And honestly, it almost succeeded, bringing me to question my strength and become harsh with myself. I was completely caught off guard, disappointed at being misunderstood and upset at not being heard. Though this trial was very difficult to deal with and brought up some not-so-pleasant feelings, I chose to take the opportunity to persevere, forgiving those involved, seeking forgiveness myself and asking God to further heal and restore me. I dared not question God, but instead I opened everything I had to Him, giving Him complete control of the situation.
As a result of persevering, I can sense myself climbing back to the top of the mountain, gaining renewed light of God’s presence. Yet, this time, I am approaching the top of the mountain with strengthened character and hope, feeling stronger, better equipped to handle such occurrences in the future and even more appreciative of God’s vast love for us. In fact, I’d like to propose that I’m climbing an altogether different mountain now; a larger mountain, one with a higher peak. I am not at the top of this mountain yet, still diligently putting one foot in front of the other, watching out for obstructions and keeping my eyes forward. I can say that like Job, I am persevering, strengthening my character and gaining hope of the view from the peak.
Thus, whether we are currently in a trial or not, we can use the concept of perseverance and complete surrender to strengthen ourselves in the Lord, improve our relationships with God and anyone involved and further build our character. Let us see our trials as a blessing and enjoy the journey together.