By Roland W. Keith
In today’s ever-changing political and social climate there is an increasing probability that Christians, wherever they may be, will eventually have to deal with spiritual trials. Not the garden-variety everyday trials of being a Christian, but those that force us to choose whose side we will be on— God’s or the world’s. We are already seeing isolated instances where those of faith have been tested and even subjected to out-and-out persecution. Today we will take a brief look at how we, as Christians can deal with the daily tests of a Christian, and more importantly how we can prepare for and endure trials of a nature up to and including true persecution.
Peter once wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that Name” (I Peter 4:12-16). One of the best ways to be ready for whatever may come at us is to simply know that it is coming, acknowledge that fact, and determine to face it with a positive attitude, knowing that God will strengthen us as we glorify His Name.
Another way to make ourselves ready is to pray. We can ask God to strengthen and deliver us from our enemies as King David did (Psalm 69: 13-18). David was confident in the Lord’s mercy, as was Paul when he wrote, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If we ask according to His will God will hear our supplication (I John 5:14). Moreover, because of our faith in Christ we may draw near to the throne with boldness and confidence (Ephesians 3:12), assured that we may present our case before Him and find a faithful judge (Job 23:3-14). This does not mean we will necessarily survive the physical struggle (Revelation 2:10; 12:11), but we will triumph spiritually finding eternal victory in our Savior.
For the faithful Christian we can learn to face every stumbling block and attack with certainty in the ultimate outcome regardless of the earthly result. We need not fear what becomes of us in the world when we trust in God, who told Isaiah, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3). The Lord is our refuge in all of life’s struggles and our fortress when we are under the severest attack if we will commit ourselves to Him (Psalm 31:1-8). Though we may be mocked in His name, taunted and reviled, even slaughtered for His name’s sake He is with us delivering us from the hand of our enemy (Psalm 44:15-26). We can rejoice even in death, knowing there is nothing to fear from the one can only take our lives, but cannot touch our souls (Matthew 10:28).
In his trials Job remarked, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him; yet I will argue my ways to His face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before Him” (Job 13:15-16). As death comes for us we know before Whom we will stand and that is our confidence, for as the Psalmist said, “in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? … For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life” (Psalm 56: 11, 13).
The Lord delivers the faithful. King David gave us these words, “The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned” (Psalm 34:16-22). The Lord hears our cries for help. Though we may not always understand how He works for our deliverance we can be assured that He is with us; we need only put our faith in Him. He sustains us in our times of need (Psalm 55:22), knowing what we need even better than we do. He also knows better than we what it takes to defeat our enemies (Psalm 60:11-12).
In the dark days of our lives God becomes our true light, our guide and strength. When we turn to His word to seek counsel and understanding we find the only true wisdom there is in life. Moreover, it is through His word that He equips us to stand against Satan (Psalm 18:28-32; Ephesians 6:10-18). We could make a long list of things we should do as Christians to better prepare ourselves to be the servants He wants us to be, but the three that I would put at the top of the list are: (1) Trust in the Lord, (2) Develop an active prayer life, and (3) study God’s word and come to know it for yourself. Ultimately, what our favorite preacher or teacher knows or teaches is not what will get us into heaven— its what we come to know of God’s truth personally, and how we live in accordance to it that will make the difference (Philippians 2:12). Here on earth we band together to be a strength one to another and to support one another, yet each of us will stand alone before the judgment seat giving an account for our own actions and our own faith.
God’s light is in His word and it is available to all of us. If we know His word and trust in Him our souls need never be cast down (Psalm 43:1-5), and we can learn to find joy even in the darkest hour trusting in Jesus as our example; He who endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). It is when we follow Christ’s example and trust God’s word that we can find the confidence to seek a right spirit, even as King David did in Psalm 51:10-17: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
When we are tested by the world we can also find great strength in acknowledging what God has already done for us and praising Him for all that He does for us in His infinite mercy (Psalm 56:9-13). At the dedication of the temple the Israelites sang this psalm of David’s: “I will extol you, O LORD, for You have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You have healed me. O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you His saints, and give thanks to His Holy Name. For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:1-5). Even when less joyful days are upon us and all seems to be going against us we should find the faith to praise God, knowing His ways are right, just as Job did: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).
As we draw to a close there are a couple more things to consider in being prepared for the trials that will inevitably come our way. One, we must submit to the Lord’s discipline. As the Psalmist noted: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces... I know, O LORD, that Your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant. Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight” (Psalm 119:71-72, 75-77). Sometimes the only way to learn a lesson is the hard way, or at least through adversity. And, sometimes it is through discipline. So, when we are chastised by the Lord we need to understand that it is for our own benefit and be thankful that He is looking after our greater welfare (Psalm 118:18-21; Hebrews 12:6, 10).
Finally, if we want to overcome the attacks of Satan we must be men and women of action. God has given us a great gift in His plan of salvation, but we must understand that it is a plan that requires active engagement on our part. We are tasked in taking His word out into the world and in maturing in it and actively living it in our own lives. James said it well when he wrote, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him… For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:12, 23-25).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.