Trials are a tool that God gives us to prune us, shake us, and humble us. We would be wise to avoid these pitfalls when we face them.
I know that when various trials come to me my first thought is not likely going to be “oh, this is going to produce endurance, and I will let endurance have its perfect result!” (James 1:4-6).
I want to try as quickly as I can to get out from underneath the pain, anxiety, and weight of that trial. When God takes away, I want to ask “why?”. When God gives, I naturally think I’m entitled to it. When God reproves me through a brother, sister, or even His Spirit, I want to bring my best rebuttal and defense. When I don’t know the best answer to the worst problem, I grow frustrated, discontent and even restless.
So, what is a boy to do?
Well, it’s certainly not a what-to-do, but a what-not-to-do! Avoid these things:
This is likely the most difficult because it is the most natural. The complaint comes from a place of discomfort and what we think is just unnecessary. After all, we are trying our best to avoid pitfalls, not make more of them!
But Biblically speaking, complaining comes from a place of pride. Think of complaints most fundamental assumption:
“I do not deserve this! What have I ever done to earn this?
And the answer to the question is “yes, yes you do and what have you not done to deserve this? (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 6:23). Everything you and I have ever done has been tainted by sin in various degrees.
If we were honest, God should have allowed the full weight of our sin bear on us immediately, but instead, He placed it upon Christ. (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2).
Every single sin and poor decision you’ve made earned your death, but instead God has given you life and life abundantly. (John 10:10). So, if Christ has suffered so greatly and you have benefited so freely, what’s a little rain?
What is the purpose of God’s people gathering each Sunday? To worship together the King who redeemed them from their sin. They come broken. They come wounded. They come, yet again, with that guilty sense of unworthiness to only be restored by the singing voices of redeemed sinners and a passionate message from the Word of God! But the problem is, people often opt to skip out on it.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
This passage was addressing the same issue that I am now. People who have made a habit of running from the thing they need most: fellowship with God’s people through the means of worship.
Satan’s schemes and the fleshly lies we fall for lead us to neglect being around the people who share the same hope that we have while also sharing the same burdens we have. Sure, they may not have your specific struggle, but they’ve got theirs. And you forsaking that not only robs you of help and hope, but also the ability to help someone else kill their sin, too.
I honestly see this too much, and again, as a Pastor, it hurts. I see people who have to endure marriage troubles, financial crises, spiritual doubts, and even sin problems do the worst thing they can do for themselves in those moments: Forsake the gathering.
THE BLAME GAME
“He made me___________.” “If it weren’t for ____________, I wouldn’t be here.”
I’ve used it, you’ve used it to. But it doesn’t work. We all have our part when trials come. Mary and Martha resorted to it when Lazarus died (John 11), Adam blamed Eve (Gen 3:12-13), even several people who didn’t want to commit to following Christ used it (Matthew 8:20-22).
The blame game has only one true victim: you.
Everyone with a brain is able to spot it, but the pride that it takes to play it actually can blind you and me into thinking we are actual victims.
Don’t play the blame game when you are really, truly not the victim. Learn to suffer well. Look to Jesus’ sufferings (Matthew 4; John 6:60-66). Consider what Peter said in 1 Peter 4:1-8 about Christians who quit “running” with the old crowd and all that it costs them.
SEEK THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
Electricity and water both share this in common. They both take the path of least resistance, and unless harnessed, they both are hazardous to our health and to our goals. When under trial, we must remember the function of trials in our lives: producing endurance.
When we encounter trials, God has allowed them in. You need to embrace that. The sooner, the better.
So when financial crunches set in, don’t look to bankruptcy, family loans, quick-cash schemes, or even dumb financial decisions that cost you more money in the long run. Face the problems and address them head on. Prayerfully attack it with all you have with dependence on Him who says not to worry about these things when we chase His Kingdom. (Matthew 6:33-34)
When the relationship tensions pile up because of your stance for Biblical values and it seems pointless to them but you see the incredible value in what you’re standing for, then stand. Don’t back down! Don’t stand in arrogance, but do stand in confidence.