Last week it would have been so easy for me to be angry, bitter, throw my fists to heaven and scream "whyyyyyyy" when I got the news that I was being put on a 50% furlough from work. Half the hours, half the pay. Not ideal. Not expected. Not prayed for. Not easy for the sole income in a household of four.
If you want to know if someone is truly walking close to God and following his will for their life, look to see what they are enduring. Hardships and trials of many kinds is a sure mark of an intimate walk with Jesus. If you want a faith that is easy and comfortable, do not sign up for christianity. I mean look at it this way, Jesus knew the crucifixion was at the end of his story and he raised his hand to go through that. For us. And we think we are going to heaven without hardships?
"...through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22
Anything that makes life harder, less convenient and threatens your faith in the goodness, power and wisdom of God is tribulation. As we look at the role of afflictions in the Christian life, keep in mind that they are tests to your faith. They could be tribulations from loss of health, or tribulations in broken/strained relationships, or tribulations in vocational hardships and disappointments, or tribulations in accidents or natural disasters, or tribulations in verbal or physical assaults, or simply everyday inconveniences from traffic trials to plumbing problems.
God doesn’t test us because He doesn’t know how strong we are.
Instead, He tests us because we don’t know how strong we are. The only way to realize your strength is when times of testing come. Again, if you want an easy christian walk, do not pray Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts”.
We know the that testing will come. Jesus prepped us for that.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Notice immediately he says, but "take heart". When Jesus tells us to take heart it means to: be encouraged, to have hope, to be bold and confident, to not give up, to be of good cheer, to have courage, and to CHEER UP!
Whether we take heart or lose heart is simply a choice we make. The way Jesus uses the phrase take heart here in John 16:33 is as an imperative verb. That means that he is saying taking heart is an action, it’s something we do, and that it is a possibility in our lives based off the choice we make…but it doesn’t become a reality until we actually make the choice.
When I received the news last week, I took a couple hours to feel the fear, figure it out and to process. But then I quickly realized what I needed to do. Others on my team got bad news too. I called three of them and encouraged them. The "Jesus Calling" devotional was perfection on April 2 for what we had been dealt that afternoon, and I wanted to shore up their hearts with promises from Him. I then called my Regional Vice President and encouraged her that we would be fine. We wouldn't miss a beat. After all, there will be so many, many stories of success that come out of these trying times...I was determined to be one of them. Funny, what happens when you lift others up...you rise. And my heart was full of hope.
Ten Principles for Enduring Tribulations
Don’t forget why you are suffering.
Remember your purpose and Whom you serve! The Apostle Paul said he was willing to suffer for the proclamation of the Gospel, for the sake of the elect, and for the glory of God. Our suffering, big or little, can be used to bring about the same purposes. (2 Tim. 2:8–9)
Remember that you are a prisoner of Christ, not of your circumstances or other people. (2 Tim. 1:8)
Keep going back to the things you know to be true from God’s Word.
Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light.
Remember what you received as a result of your salvation in Christ (2 Tim. 1:5) Remember your calling and the grace of God (2 Tim. 1:1, 9-13).
Keep doing whatever God has called you to do.
Persevere, stay the course, and be faithful, regardless of any opposition or hardship. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
Trust God to deal with those who oppose the truth.
Don’t take matters into your own hands or become bitter and argumentative. (2 Tim. 2:23–26)
Remember times in the past when the Lord delivered or rescued you. Be quick to praise Him and testify to others (2 Tim. 3:11; 4:16-17).
Rely on the resources God has given you:
The grace of God (2 Tim. 1:2, 9; 2:1; 4:22).
The gift of God—your God-given ability to serve Him (2 Tim. 1:6-7).
The power of God (rather than your own strength) (2 Tim. 1:8; Phil. 2:13; Eph. 6:10).
The indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 1:14).
The Word of God, which will keep you grounded and give you perspective (2 Tim. 2:7, 9; 3:12-17; 4:1-2).
Remember that you are not alone in your trials.
You already have:
The presence of Christ (Matt. 28:20)
The prayers of other believers (2 Tim. 1:3)
The “fellowship of suffering”—other believers who are facing hardships for the sake of Christ (2 Tim. 1:8; Heb. 13:3; Col. 1:24).
Cultivate these to help you endure:
Godly helpers – Find and cultivate a group of like-minded believers whose faithfulness and prayers can inspire and strengthen you (2 Tim. 1:2, 4-5; 4:9-13, 19-21).
Godly heroes – Read the biographies of missionaries and other faithful believers so God can cultivate faith and wisdom in your heart (Heb. 13:7; 2 Tim. 3:10, 14).
Godly heritage – As you learn about those who’ve gone before, you will be able to instill faith and courage in the next generation. Pass the baton to others. (2 Tim. 2:2)
No matter how difficult things are today, you can face the future with hope. Trust the truth of Scripture.
The Truth is:
All wrongs will one day be righted (2 Tim. 3:8-9; 4:14).
The Lord will deliver you from all evil—in His time and way (2 Tim. 4:17-18). In the meantime, counsel your heart according to the truth and promises of God (Psalm 27).
All your suffering, efforts, labors, and faithfulness will be rewarded in “that Day” when believers stand before the Lord (2 Tim. 1:12, 18; 2:12; 4:8; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; James 1:12).
You will give an account, so guard the “deposit” entrusted to you (2 Tim. 1:12, 14; 1 Tim. 6:20).
In all your suffering, remember Jesus Christ.
His life and His suffering and sacrifice for you (2 Tim. 2:3)
His triumph over Satan, sin, and death (2 Tim. 2:8)
His power, promises, and presence (Matt. 28:18-20)
What He is doing for you in heaven (John 14:2-3; Rom. 8:34).
Expect suffering—it is inevitable—but don’t forget the powerful resource that you have in Christ. Entrust your life to His ever-present care and control. He loves you, and He will help you endure.