I once heard a preacher remark that every believer is either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or going into a trial. It’s a fact of life — we will face suffering. Since this is true, God’s children must be equipped appropriately. I have known too many believers who have quit on God because of some type of hardship. They naively assume that He should protect them from all harm, or that He doesn’t love them because He allowed a difficulty. Discouraged and disillusioned, they have become faithless. They are like a man in Jesus’ parable, who allowed the pressures and persecution of life to squelch his spiritual fervor (see Matthew 13:21). If you want to avoid such a jaded perspective, you must arm yourself with God’s truth. Consider three Bible requirements for trials.
Don’t be surprised.
As a new Christian, I naively assumed that I would no longer experience hardship. I heard people talk about the Christian life with flowery, fairy-tale-like descriptions. Preachers often made appeals with promises of a better life. When trouble came my way, I was confused. Now, I have come to understand that faith is not an exemption from rough experiences. Christians are subject to the same levels of suffering as non-Christians. Jesus taught that our Heavenly Father “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). All of humanity is subject to the natural circumstances and consequences of the natural earth. On top of this, Christians are subject to more suffering on account of their faith. Being a believer actually ensures more difficulties. Not only do we have the consequences of the fall to deal with, we also face reproach from unbelievers (see Matthew 5:11) and attacks from Satan (see 1 Peter 5:8). Don’t be surprised when trials come your way. Don’t get disillusioned and disappointed. Accept that adversity is a fact of life. It’s not an evidence that God doesn’t love you; it’s an evidence that you are a real human.
Choose to be joyful.
Rejoicing is required to face trials well. This may seem counterintuitive, but Scripture teaches us that it is important for our souls. James told his readers, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials” (James 1:2). Why does God want us to remain happy in the midst of hardship? Is He a sick warlord who gets kicks from people taking pleasure in pain? No. He wants us to remain joyful, because He knows it’s good for us. It gives us strength to endure (see Nehemiah 8:10). When you quit praising God in the storm, you are likely to quit persevering in the storm.
Have you ever known someone who acted like they were the only one who ever faced a difficulty? Maybe they gave the impression that no one else had ever lost a spouse, suffered an illness, or had difficulties at work. Sometimes such people like to defend their self-pity, saying things like, “You don’t know what I’m going through!” Don’t fall into that trap. Know that you are not alone in your suffering. You have a Savior who experienced all the horrors and hurt of human life. His Spirit now lives within you, and He can help you stay strong in the storms (see Hebrews 4:15-16).