Trials and persecutions are a part of any biblical Christian life. It’s not if we will face trials, it’s when. Many people like to skip over this fact in their Bibles, but it’s a fact that can be dangerous to ignore. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” He doesn’t say, “You may have troubles and trials,” He says, “You will.” But He also follows that statement by saying, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
There is a thought process concerning trials that I have had for a long time and that I see in much of the Church today. The Holy Spirit recently opened my eyes to a biblical truth about trials that has revolutionized my entire paradigm when it comes to how I view them.
The thought process that I had previously had (and that I hear in so many of today’s contemporary Christian songs) is that I was supposed to rejoice in spite of the trials. I thought that I was supposed to find something to be thankful for even though I was going through persecutions or troubles. You may be thinking, “That is what were supposed to do…” Well, not exactly.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me and began to open my eyes to a truth in the Word about trials. He spoke to me and said, “You are not called to rejoice in spite of trials, but because of them.” James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” If we learn to grasp this truth, I think it could revolutionize the way we think.
It seems to me that Christians who are in the midst of trials struggle to be thankful in the midst of them because they are trying to find something to be thankful for in spite of the trial instead of actually thanking God for the trial itself.
We are told in Romans, “We know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” (Romans 8:28 AMP). We can actually rejoice because of the very trial itself because we know that it is conforming us more into the image of Jesus and that it’s actually for our good—it’s producing something in us.
Additionally, there is one other thought process about trials that I want to talk about. We know that in James it says, “Count it all joy… because the testing of your faith produces patience.” The problem is that it seems many take this to mean that when a storm comes, the point is to hunker down and wait for it to blow over. That’s not it at all.
In Romans 8, Paul has just finished speaking about the trials and persecutions that we will face as believers when he says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (verse 31). He continues with, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’” (verses 35-36). Then Paul finishes with this key statement: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors” (verse 37).
This is the key that I believe is supposed to be learned here: God doesn’t allow storms in our life so we can simply learn to endure them, but so that we can learn to conquer them. The point of having patience is that God doesn’t work in our timetables and we need to have faith and patience as we trust Him to bring about the victory, but patience itself isn’t the only end goal… patience is unto conquering.
Patience and endurance are a part of the battle and we grow in them as a result of trials, but the purpose of the battle is to gain the victory. And we know that, “If God is for us, who can be against us!”
I remember the Holy Spirit saying to me once, “You can either look at obstacles as problems, or as opportunities. Obstacles set the stage for God to do the miraculous.” I believe that God wants to give us a new way to think, where obstacles and storms actually become exciting to us because they set the stage for God to move.