A Biblical Perspective on the Trials of Life
By Steven J. Hogan
All Christians go through trials. It is part of the life that God has given us, and it is a necessary part of our life. We have been talking a lot about prophecy, and the truth is that the Christian will face many trials and even great tribulation in the end times, in that time right before the return of Jesus Christ. It is important then to know what God says about trials, and He has much to say in His word about trials and their purpose for our lives. May the following verses help you to learn about trials and to then learn through your trials, about God and His great glory, and about His abundant grace and goodness for you.
- “The brother of humble circumstance is to glory in his high position.” James 1:9. The trial is given to humble you, to show you that you are weak, and that you need God and His help. It is a humbling circumstance that is to result in a high position with God. And it is not a high position with man that we should be concerned about, but a high position with God.
- “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the nations – I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10. This Psalm speaks about major worldwide trials, the kind that have occurred in the past, and particularly those that will occur in the end times. These cataclysmic events are to show you that God is God, and that you are but flesh, and that He will humble you, and all of mankind. God will do what He wants to do, and in the future He will be exalted in all the earth. Psalm 57
- “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:3. The trial tests your faith, and it builds your faith in God, for you are to learn to trust God, and to continually trust God as you go through trials. This continued trust in God builds spiritual endurance in your life, resulting in spiritual growth.
- “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9. The trial is given to show you your weakness, your inability, your need for God. When you encounter a trial, then you are to turn to God and trust Him and then you will experience all the grace you need to get through the trial in a God glorifying way.
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. The trial is given to you so that you can be comforted by God. When you go through trials, you need comfort, not so much the comfort of men, but the comfort of God. In a trial, look to God so you can experience His comfort and encouragement, and it is this comfort that will help you to endure, to get through the trial with His love in your heart. Being comforted by God is a demonstration of His love for you, and knowing this love and care is essential as you go through trials.
- “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, for if we are comforted, it is for your comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-6. The trial is given so you can be comforted by God, but also so you can then comfort others who are going through a trial. God wants you to learn to be a channel of His comfort, to pass on the comfort you receive from God to others.
- “Now I want you to know brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12. When you experience God’s grace in a trial, then that can open up a door for the gospel. People may see when you are going through a trial but they can’t see why you are encouraged in that trial. It is up to you to tell them that God Himself is helping you and is giving you His grace. Going through a trial may give you the opportunity to share the gospel with an unbeliever who sees you at peace in the midst of your trial.
- “The Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:3. God wants you to love Him at all times, when things are good or when they are bad. When you are going through a trial it is very important that you love God, and that you express that love to Him. This love for God is an expression of your faith in Him, that you believe God is doing what is right and best for you.
- “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-7. Your body is an earthen vessel, and when you are in a trial, it is evident that you are weak, and that you cannot make it through this trial in your own strength. The trial is an opportunity to experience God’s power working in and through your humble and weak body. Then you can say, “Look what God has done.”
- “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Psalm 119:67. The trial is an affliction given by God, and it is often given to show you that you have gone astray from God, that you have been disobedient to God. The trial is given to get you back on track, to get you to obey God. The trial and the need to obey God may relate to one specific area of your life. It may be an area of love or holiness or fear. When you go through a trial, read God’s Word, and ask God to show you if there is a specific area where you need to obey Him.
- “Therefore men, fear Him; for He does not regard any who are wise of heart.” Job 37:24. Job 37 is all about the weather and, in my opinion, is the best weather chapter in the Bible. You all have experienced a storm stopping you from doing what you want to do. And so too, the trial is often given by God to stop you in your tracks, to keep you from doing what you want to do, to humble you so you look to God and see that He will do what He wants to do. The trial is given to you so that you fear God, so you see His greatness, power and glory.
- “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” 2 Chronicles 20:15-18. The trial was the enemy who had this vast army, and therefore Jehoshaphat was thinking of this great battle that he would have to fight, but a fight that he knew he couldn’t win apart from God. In this trial he looks to God, and God does all the fighting for Him. In some trials you need to stand still and see the salvation of God.
- “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” 2 Chronicles 20:15-18. Jehoshaphat saw the salvation of God, the victory of God. That is, this trial helped him to see God’s character – His holiness, His love, His power, and His wisdom. A trial is a tool that God uses in your life to teach you about Himself, about His amazing, perfect and wonderful character.
- “Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5. A deadly accident or calamity or a murder can be a severe trial, for you see or hear of people who suddenly die. It may even be friends or family members, and you may wonder why. These kind of trials are designed to be a wake-up call to you, so that you recognize that God is sovereign, that God is holy, that you need to fear Him, and that you need to be humble and repent.
- “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing hear.” Hebrews 10:24-25. There will be great trials and great tribulation on earth before the coming of Christ. These trials are part of God’s plan to help you see that you cannot make it on your own, that you need one another. Trials are given to build God’s family, to bring us together, so that we then love one another, help one another and encourage one another.
- “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” James 1:2. God wants you to see that His joy is much more important than the world’s happiness. You can go through life looking for ways to be happy. God gives you trials so you stop looking for things or people to make you happy, but so you look to God so you can experience His joy. Happiness is circumstantial, and goes up and down, but joy from God is to be constant, that which you are to experience at all times, not just when things are good, but even when things are bad. God wants you to have His joy all the time, and when you are in a trial, God is working in you and causing you to go to Him to receive the joy He wants to give you.
- “Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you preserve me from trouble. You surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:6-7. Sometimes the trial is that you are in danger, for there is an enemy who is after you, and who is too strong for you. In the midst of being attacked by the enemy, you need to go to God, for He is your refuge, and He will protect you and deliver you from evil, and from the evil enemy. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly Kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18
- “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17. It is vital that you understand that trials are a means of eternal glory. This is a very encouraging truth! Might you not be shortsighted, but might you know that trusting God in the midst of an earthly trial will result in eternal blessings for you and eternal glory for God. Might you also see that your trial is not a heavy affliction but a light affliction, resulting not just in some temporary blessing but in an eternal weight of glory.
- “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2. Trials are oftentimes God’s pruning tools, designed to take away useless and dead branches in your life. What is the result of this spiritual pruning? It is holiness, it is purity, and then there will be more fruit, more earthly and eternal blessing, and more glory to God.
- “Not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that our tribulation brings about perseverance…and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.” Romans 5:3 Trials can be very hard, and some can last for a long time, and even for your entire life. How can you make it through trials like this? You need hope, you need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You need to know that it is worth it to keep living for the Lord. You need to see that hope enables you to endure the trials you go through. You need to see beyond the trial, and past the trial. You need to see that heaven awaits you beyond this earth.
- “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28-29. Trials are some of those “all things.” You need to know and believe that God is sovereign over your trials, and is personally working in your life, and is causing all your trials to work together for good, and the ultimate good is that you will be glorified and that God will receive great glory.
- “Whom have I in heaven but You, and earth has nothing I desire besides you.” “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Psalm 73:25-26, Colossians 3:1-4. When you go through trials God is not just teaching you to have hope for the future, but to put your hope in the Lord, to know that He is all that you have got, all that you need, and all that you might want, now and forever. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
- “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12. When you go through a trial, people oftentimes see how you respond when you are going through that trial. God wants people to see Jesus Christ in you as you are standing in that fiery furnace or lion’s den. Your faith in God during the trial encourages other believers around you to trust in Him.
- “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10. The trial is given to you so that you learn that God is with you, and that God never leaves you no matter how hard or difficult the trial. No matter what you go through in life know that God will never forsake you. God is always with you which means that He will lead you, protect you, encourage you, help you, and then bring you to glory.
- “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:17-18. Trials can result in fears, but God does not want you to succumb to these fears, but by God’s grace to conquer them, to get victory over them. Always remember that God is with you. Always remember that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. Do not be afraid! You never need to be afraid of anyone or anything!
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9. You may be timid, but God is training you not to be timid, but to be strong and courageous, and trials are part of His training plan. God puts you in a tough situation, and you are not to be weak, wimpy or fearful. You are God’s soldier, and you are to know that He is with you, and that you are to boldly and courageously fight for God, and for others, and for His glorious and eternal cause.
- “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 24:19. You may not like this verse, but it is true. The Christian, the godly man, the godly woman will face many trials in life. That is the way it is, and it is God’s way for you. But the promise is that God will deliver you from all of life’s trials and difficulties, from every single one of them. Remember, there will be a time when there is no more mourning or crying or pain, or death. To God be all the glory!
Might God use these truths about trials to teach and train you to be the godly man or woman He wants you to be. Remember, trials are for your good, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.