Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark, Sr.
“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in troubles for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When one trusts God, he stops asking for sympathy, for he sees his trials as the very conditions of his blessings, and he looks to God for strength. For as Paul courageously said, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Rom. 8:38–39).
The overcoming of temptations and trials builds confidence in God. Then, should we not rejoice in them? Every trial, every problem, affords a glorious opportunity to learn of the high calling to which God ever calls His own. They are precious opportunities to prove our faith in God! Our heavenly Father often ordains that we suffer for a season that we might be made perfect and worthy of His praise. Oh, how the true measure of one’s worth is brought out as he struggles through dark nights of sorrow and pain! When we are tried “so as by fire”, we learn to look to Him who has promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you! Though you walk in the midst of the fire, you will not be burned; yea, the flame will not burn you” (Isa. 43:2). Through all our trials, our Father walks beside us, however dark may be the night.
Dear friends, God proves us to show us who we really are, whether we are like the wise man who built his house upon the rock or the foolish man who built his house on sand. If we are wise, we will see our trials as stepping stones carefully designed by our Father to mold us more perfectly in His image. Knowing this, Peter joyfully counseled, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is coming to try you, as though a strange thing is happening to you. On the contrary, rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” We must endure the refiner’s fire in order to attain to the standard of holiness which fits us for the Master’s use. Peter, that dear old fire-tried apostle, desired “so that the trying of your faith, being much more precious than the trying of gold that perishes, though it be tried by fire, may be found worthy of praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 1:7).
One can always be thankful for the guiding Hand that leads triumphantly in the confidence of right, though that Hand at times may lead “through the valley of the shadow of death.” If one will only trust at all times, he will be able to say, as the Psalmist David, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Yes, Reader, God will bring you through every battle victoriously and make you more than a conqueror in every battle. You need never be troubled nor fear defeat as long as you obey the invisible One who directs and sustains all His tried people.
The glory of suffering for righteousness’ sake shines upon us more and more as we climb through these trials of faith with heads raised toward the heights of perfection, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Without a strong hold on our dear Savior, we will utterly fail, for without him we are too helpless and weak to master our trials. He is our strength; therefore, we may be encouraged even when we feel cast down and weak, as Paul did. At times during our trials we may feel as mournful Job felt when he uttered these words, “Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; on the left hand where He is working, but I cannot behold Him; He is hiding Himself on the right hand so that I cannot see Him. Still, He knows how it is with me, and when He has tried me, I will come forth like gold.”
“The Lord tries the righteous,” David tells us (Ps. 11:5). And the strongest type of character always receives the hardest trials. What a glorious opportunity we have – the privilege to be stamped with the trademark of heaven! Trials of faith are God’s greatest compliments to His earthly children.
One should never look upon his trials as mere attacks from the Devil. Not at all! God’s sheep should be taught that it is God who designs and sends trials of faith, and that they are intended for our greatest blessings! There is great peace in understanding that faith must be tried, and that when it is tried, it is being tried by God! From trials, one learns his most precious lessons, lessons custom designed for each of us by our Father, to match our faith and to enhance our spiritual development.
If you do not yet know the sweetness and the joy of overcoming trials, then perhaps you need to humble yourself before God, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” There is a peace that comes with obeying this exhortation that is unattainable by any other means.
Suppose the engines in our airplanes were not tested before they took to the air. Would you want to be aboard for its maiden flight? I doubt it. Even so it is with us. Jesus will not take that much-talked about trip in the air with anyone who hasn’t had the ground test. The test of our faith is the discipline of God, the method He uses to correct, mold, strengthen, and perfect us. These tests are manifold, and may be puzzling and painful, but we have one great consolation; that is, they are all to last only “for a season”. Yes, thank God, the testing time is short compared to eternity with all its enjoyments. Paul exhorts us to remember that “No trial has overtaken you but what is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tried beyond what you can bear, but He will also with the trial make a way of escape, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Every trial is designed by our God with a holy purpose. Trials prepare us for blessings; and only those who receive the discipline of trials here in this world will obtain the crown of life. The word of God forever heralds the truth that man must battle for his crown. A calm sea never made a skillful mariner.
The Bible relates stories of many whose lives seemed to be one extended test of character and faith: Abraham, Joseph, Jeremiah, and Daniel being among them. They offer proof that “whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” At the same time, such lives show that it is possible to pass through every trial with integrity and grace. Surely we, as well as they, can be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.” May God help us to obtain more of this “same precious faith”, so that when Jesus comes, we shall not be found wanting.
Be patient, my friends, and do not mar your peace by needless worry, but “count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the trying of your faith produces patience.” And “let patience have its perfect work, that you might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”