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The Survival Zone: Can ALL be good in the midst of difficult trials?

January 11, 2012 1 comment


How do you respond to the events which happen in your life?  Do you see them as good or bad depending on the situation?  We are often faced with tragedy, hurts, disappointments and the like in the midst of many positive circumstances in our life.  Are life events all good independent of their nature?  God’s Word tells us in…

1 Thessalonians 5:18
18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

And in,

Romans 8:28
28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

So, are bad trials, really bad trials, in our lives good?

The following story (source: Open Doors Ministry) helps give an interesting perspective for how we should endeavor to look at life’s circumstances and appropriately respond.

A tribal king in Africa had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) as well as the lives of others and remarking, “This is good!” He based it on our two Scriptures above.  The king loved his friend’s positive outlook and took him with him wherever he went.

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. As the king fired his gun at a pheasant that flew up from the long grass, the rifle backfired and blew off his right thumb. Looking at the king’s bleeding hand, his friend remarked as usual, “This is good!”

The king was angry and replied, “No, this is NOT good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail for his insensitivity.

About a year later, the king was hunting all alone in an area that he should have known to stay clear of.  Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, and were going to cook him in a big pot. As they set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb on his right hand. Being very superstitious, cannibals never eat anyone who is less than perfect. So they released the king.

Walking home he kept staring at his right hand without a thumb. “This IS good!” he said out loud. He was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his shabby treatment of his friend. So he went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.

“You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied as usual, “This is good!”

“What do you mean, ‘This is good?’ How could it be good that I put my friend in jail for over a year?”

“Well,” replied his friend, “if I had not been here in jail, I would have been out there with you!”

Survival Points:  God is sovereign and desires His people to draw near to Him, trust Him, and be totally dependent on Him.  As He crafts our character through our trials in this life He uses the circumstances of life to accomplish His purpose in growing us toward Christ-likeness.   Even in the negative things He is sovereign and has purposed all we experience for our good and His glory.  Our response should be to focus on the “what” of our trial – what do You wish me to learn from this Lord; how can I serve You more fully; how can I become more like Your Son?  Let the negative challenges of your life circumstances, small or great, draw out the positive of God through your testimony!

Yes, all is good even in our really difficult trials and circumstances (while in many instances we may not see this at the time);  we are even given the privilege through our trials to experience the joy of Christ as never before as we learn to see our trials for their designed purposes.  The Apostle Paul’s Christian life seemed to be one difficult trial after another, yet he was always positive, on mission, and an encouragement to others independent of his circumstances (read Acts 16).  Which is in essence the definition of joy (a feeling of peace beyond our understanding independent of our most challenging circumstances – Phil 4:6-7)!  His secret was to always have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and be focused on the future and the upward calling of the kingdom of God (Phil 3:13-14).

Our prayer should be for God to help us always see the positive in ALL our circumstances (Romans 8:28); trusting in His sovereignty; acknowledging He always knows what is best and good for us; and in all things give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18) for we have a strong Advocate to cast all our cares upon for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  We are not alone, ever, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, that means especially in our difficult trials (Heb 13:5). Remember God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts or timing (Is 55:8-9).  We should ask God to help us always elevate our thoughts upward toward Him, seeing His purposes of goodness in them!

Lord help us always to be Christ-centered and Kingdom-focused seeing beyond ourselves toward Your higher purposes all for Your honor and glory.  Amen.

Making Godly Decisions During Trials

James 1:5-6 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 

Often times the most difficult time for making godly decisions is during our trials.  Many times trials bring out the worst in us as we try to cope with our circumstances.  In the grip of the trial we many times try to cope through our own self-sufficiency, we can succumb to debilitating emotional stress, search for solutions outside of God, and can bury ourselves in denial pulling the covers over our head hoping the trial will pass and when you arise all will be well.   As Christians it should be easy to see that these approaches to making godly decisions on how to cope with and endure our trials are not what God desires us to do.  On the contrary what God desires most of all is for us to humble ourselves, seek Him and be totally dependent on Him in our hour of need.   

Trials are designed to show us our total and utter dependence on God and for Him to work in and through us to glorify Himself in the trial and as a result He helps us grow in endurance and Christlike character (James 1:2-4).  James also tells us in verse 2 that we should count it all joy when we are in a trial.  This is the difficulty isn’t it?  How do I express joy when I am experiencing an uncomfortable trial?  What is this joy anyway?   The joy James is talking about here is the joy of knowing the God loves you enough to allow you to go through trials to deepen our relationship with Him and grow to be more like His Son.  What greater joy than to know the God of the universe is personally involved in my life in such a way as to help me be more and more acceptable in His sight and usable for His Kingdom. 

In James 1:5 we are given the key to how God desires us to handle our trial, receive understanding as we deal with the trial, and experience the resulting joy in our trial.  In one word it is WISDOM.  James tells us that God gives us wisdom continually, generously and without finding fault.  Proverbs 2:6 tells us that our source for wisdom is the Lord and that from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  His wisdom is perfect, complete, and always good for us.

So how do we make godly decisions as we deal with the circumstances of our trials?   The answer is to pray for wisdom and ask God, in faith, to give to us all we need to understand in how to respond and make godly decisions in our trial.  The key is to ask in faith without doubting.  He knows whether or not in our heart we believe His wisdom is the answer and that we trust Him no matter what our circumstance.  Without faith James tells us in vs. 8 that we are double-minded (sitting on the fence in our trust and confidence in God) and are unstable in ALL our ways – emotions, relationships, spiritual life.   James is telling us that our faith is being tested and that we cannot expect to receive what God has for us if we do not trust in Him completely. 

Believe, trust, ask, don’t doubt, receive, experience  and grow.  The process of making godly decisions as we access the wisdom of God.

James 1:5-6 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 

James 1:8 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Application:

Our ability to make godly decisions during our trials is dependent on our faith, trust, and confidence in God and taking hold of the wisdom He desires to give us liberally.  There is great security in the wisdom of God and His promises are already possessed.  Study the diagram below and look up the Scriptures and see how we are secure in God’s wisdom and ultimately how we access joy and contentment as we seek His wisdom in making godly decisions in our trials.  Add your own verses which speak to you.  Review this diagram each time you need to make tough decisions in your trials.