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Apr 06 2010

Why Trials?

Hey, I am on the road today heading toward the first stop of a bus tour with Walk in the Word. You can follow the trip at WalkintheWord.com/bustour. Please join us at a stop on the tour if you live near one of those cities.

Anyway, my message on the tour is about trials. Why trials, you might ask?  In the New Testament, the Greek word has the idea of proving through testing.  An event that demonstrates the genuineness of your faith in Christ and refines the quality of your spiritual life. By studying the term in all of scripture and by experiencing quite a few of my own, I’ve come up with this definition:

A trial is a painful circumstance allowed by God to change my conduct and my character.

My conduct—that’s what I do. And then to a deeper level, my character—that’s who I am.

Trials are about what God is adjusting in the actions I choose, and what God is doing to the character that helps me choose the actions. Several of the biblical terms covering this concept or kind of interchangeable: suffering, hardship, tribulation, chastising, and discipline. Trials are hard times!

These hard times vary both in intensity and duration. Tribulation can take you by storm, fast and furious. Or a trial can stretch over months or years or, in some instances, decades. It can be small and irritation or huge and shattering.

The thing we know for sure about trials is that all God’s children experience them.

In fact, if you’re one of God’s children, you’re going through a trial right now. Some size. Some shape. It is the most difficult aspect of your life: Is it physical? Is it relational? Is it economical? Is it emotional? Is it circumstantial?

It’s hard to argue with Hebrews 12:11? “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant but afterward it yeilds the peaceful fruit of righteousness [a synonym for holiness] to those who have been trained by it”

To make the most of the Lord’s discipline through trials, remember these three things:

1. The pain is momentary. This is not going to go on forever. Better days are ahead. God won’t let it go on one minute more than it needs to.

2. The profit is immense. You will receive “the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” the practical quality of godly living—a bushel of blessing, a barn full of bounty.  My mom recently told me, “I wouldn’t want to be the person I would have been were it not for my trials.”  Wow, that’s it!

3. The promise is conditional. The peaceful fruit of righteousness comes “to those who have been trained by it.” Your trial can train you for righteousness. I hate the thought that I ‘m wasting my time here or going through this pain for no purpose.  Make sure your not just ‘gutting it out.’  Make sure you are actually being ‘trained’ by your trial or it will go on too long and you’ll have to come back to it again.

Why trials? Because the God who loves you and saved you through His wonderful son Jesus, is also committed to changing you and He is using the painful circumstances of life to accomplish that purpose it you.  Make sure your cooperating through submission and letting God have his way today.

James