The Trials of Life

As you walk down the street, have you ever seen it to be bright and sunny on one side, and dark, stormy, and raining on the other side? Then how can we expect our life to always have only good things happening to us? When the rains come in our lives, why should we complain, “Lord, why me?” We know this is a sin-cursed earth; bad things just come with the territory. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:24, “God causes the sun to shine on the bad as well as the good and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

Or did you think you had some special agreement with God? “Lord, I’ll serve you – as long as you give me only the good things of life. But as soon as I get one bad thing that I don’t like, I won’t serve you any more.” Is God your servant or are you His? Yes, just as surely as good things can happen to very wicked people, bad things can also happen to very good people.

God’s own Son was not exempt from the trials of life any more than we are. We are told in Hebrews 2:14: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” In every way, throughout His life, He was like us, sharing every day in our pain and suffering.

Even the strongest Christian has to be careful. Satan knows our every weakness, and appeals to them all, just as a fisherman uses every kind of bait to catch fish; if one doesn’t work, then he’ll try another, until he finds one that does work. He tempts us at our weakest point, and at our weakest time. He’s been doing it for about 6000 years now, and he doesn’t need to eat or sleep, so he has every advantage over us except one: he doesn’t have God on his side.

If there was anyone who deserved special treatment by God, it was the apostle Paul. But we find no such thing happening to him, as we see from II Corinthians 12:7-9. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul had a physical problem that he called a thorn in his flesh. He also called it a messenger of Satan, to buffet or severely beat him. Anyone who has had a thorn in his foot realizes just how painful it is, and how anxious you would be to get it out. You certainly wouldn’t want to suffer any longer than absolutely necessary. Little wonder then that Paul wanted it out.

Whenever Paul prayed to God, no doubt he felt that he could serve God even better than he already was if God would only remove the thorn. God answered his prayer, but the answer was no; God would not take it away. Why? Because God’s strength was demonstrated greater by Paul’s weakness. It proved clearly that what Paul was doing was by the power of God, not by the strength of man. Satan tried to use that thorn to discourage Paul from his zealous preaching, but once Paul saw how God was glorified even more by it, he could accept it as a badge of honor, not as a handicap.

Do we have an affliction that deeply depresses us? We certainly should pray to God about it, just as Paul did. But we must also be willing to accept our limitation, if God doesn’t remove it, and not use it as an excuse for doing nothing, just because we can’t do as others who don’t have our problem. We can’t give up the good fight. God expects us always to do our best for Him and we can’t do that if we allow ourselves to become discouraged, to give up and quit.

Christ and God have both done their part for us, and now it’s up to us to do our part. As we are told in Ephesians 6:11, we must “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. “ There are too many people who are trying so hard to find some easy way to get into heaven. They aren’t willing to fight. They seem to think that if they don’t put on any armor at all, then Satan will leave them alone. That’s just wishful thinking. That person has already fallen into the trap of the devil.

Satan has no more power over us than we are willing to give him. But neither has God. Satan tries his best to influence us to do evil, just as God endeavors to influence us to do good. Which one will we heed? God will not compel us to do good, and Satan can’t force us to do evil. Only if we resist Satan will we do good; or we can even defy God and do evil. Which will you choose?

~ Robert Murry