#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.
So, we’re taking a break from the series and looking at quotes again. Today’s quote comes from John Newton:
Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes because we need them.
Have you ever thought of suffering as a gift?
Philippians 1:29 says: For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Suffering means having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have, no matter how big or how small. If you believe in Christ, you must suffer for His sake. This doesn’t always mean persecution because of preaching the gospel, instead I choose to see this verse as saying that we must suffer certain trials in our personal lives, in order for our behaviour to be more conformed to Christ.
In times like that, Psalm 16 is there to comfort us. Verse 5 says, O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. Once you have this at the back of your mind, know that your future is secure as long as you remain in God. The next thing is to ask God, what sickness is this medicine you prescribed trying to heal?
That means, you have to ask God: Lord, what lesson do you want me to get from this trial that I am going through, Lord what are you trying to teach me?
Many of us miss this and end up having to take the medicine over and over because we never let God heal us and we remain sick. Don’t mistake a trial for an affliction from the enemy — satan.
Whenever you are facing something, pray that God should reveal to you whether it is a trial or an affliction from the enemy so you can know how to combat the situation. Some people are barren because God shut their womb for a season, others are barren because the enemy is eating their children. You need to know the difference. A trial will usually involve God asking you to do something that seems difficult on the face of it, or asking you to give up something or someone or putting you in an impossible situation and asking you to trust Him while an affliction will sometimes feel like an obstacle or hindrance to moving forward or progressing in God. A trial will never hinder you from moving forward in God, instead trials should draw you closer to God because trials are there to test and refine our character. Affliction intends to keep you in bondage and away from God. You should count your trials as joy and fight to be delivered from affliction!
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. — James 1:22
Before trials, God gives us as individuals our own measure of faith that we need to persevere (Romans 12:3). Don’t think that God delights in our suffering, Christ is sympathetic toward us in all our trials, being touched by the feelings of our infirmities.
When I graduated from High school and didn’t get into any of the universities I wanted in that first year, it was like a joke. I watched my mates start school and even enter their second year and then I started to panic. I abandoned my dreams of schooling abroad and started to settle for whatever anyone said was a possible option, I just wanted to get into school. I would write all sorts of admission exams and always be 2 marks away from the cut off mark.
This trial was one of the hardest times of my life because my father kept on falling sick, so my mother’s attention was constantly divided between us. Almost a year at home, still nothing, no viable options. I finally turned to God, I cried out bitterly and God showed me, where you are eventually going for university, you need to learn patience. I said all this time, that’s what you were trying to teach me, to not be strong headed and to be patient? That’s it? I was angry but I eventually got into school.
When I started my foundation year, I realised how that one year at home made me so much better in school, it made me eager for knowledge, I was focused and serious with my studies,
too serious most likely. When I eventually got into university, (on a scholarship! Whoop! Whoop!) I realised how much I had changed, I was no longer as stubborn as before. I found myself tolerating a lot of things that I never would — God knew I would end up schooling in quite a racist environment and took the time to prep me so that I would be able to adjust. I can’t say that I’m fully there yet but that one year definitely taught me a lot and drew me closer to God.
Trials are a medication for our sickness — that’s the sin in us God is constantly trying to weed out of our lives. Don’t miss the lesson God is trying to teach you in your trial, else you’ll fail the exam and have to repeat the test till you get it right.
Other times, there’s no test of faith or lesson behind our trials. God is just training us for a better world, a world without pain or sorrow. Some types of trials befall us when we get real deep in Christ, most times the purpose for those trials are not physical, they are eternal. For example, God uses trials to train us on how best to comfort others we will encounter later in life and through this, we end up leading them to Christ and they get their salvation; that’s an eternal purpose, it’s not just about you anymore but about God’s big plan. Sometimes, God just wants to see how we will react, can we praise and trust Him through it? or have we become so prideful and think, Am I not God’s faithful servant, how can this be happening to me? In those times, trials come just to humble us, not to teach us anything in particular but just to remind us that God is still the captain of this ship. Sometimes, trials are not tests — they’re just training.
Please also read a blog post I did on perseverance a while back: Persevere, God is still in charge!