Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. Ps 105:19 KJV
When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. Matt 13:21 NIV
This is an amazing season of testing for those pursuing the Kingdom in the marketplace. Many are holding fast through all kinds of trials in finances, health, relationships, etc. I don’t think it’s coincidence. There is a huge battle going on, and it’s much bigger than our individual circumstances. However, our God is so big and so wise that He is able to use these light and temporary afflictions to mature His people. Psychological health and spiritual maturity both require some experience with suffering and trials. It happens to everyone! What is really happening in our hearts?
Those who survive and prosper through a time of testing don’t regret the experience. They see the fruit and depth it produces in their hearts, and they are thankful for it. They can look back and see the hand of God protecting and delivering them, reversing something the enemy meant for evil into something precious and victorious that redefines and deepens who we are in Christ.
Tried by the Word – Kings are entrepreneurial. They are confident in what God put in their heart. The righteous are bold as a lion (Pro 28:1). They are creative, wise, productive and prophetic. That’s all good until it’s test time. Then our best efforts fall far short of the dream we hoped for. Like Joseph, we are imprisoned by our circumstances, and the plans and dreams that God put in our hearts just try us. For a season nothing works and we are tempted to quit and believe something is broken or wrong with us. It’s really just the Lord asking a simple question, “Do you trust me?” Although God places a very high value on our character, initiative, industry and planning, it’s His Spirit that makes the most difference. And it’s our faith or trust in Him and to leverage His power in us that moves the mountain.
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. Zech 4:6-7 NASU
Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Ps 20:6-7 NIV
Will it ever end? – I’m sure Joseph, Daniel, John and Paul each asked the same question from their prison cell. We can only put one foot in front of the other and live in the present one day at a time. However, the dream or the word God placed in our lives is still the treasure of our hearts. The just live by faith with the expectation that God himself will bring us through when our own efforts and initiatives seem so small and seem to have to so little impact. Kings are not immune from trials and setbacks.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isa 50:7 NIV
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem Luke 9:51 KJV
Resolve (setting your face) – The genius of trials is that it leaves us with two simple choices: give up, or trust God. Trying harder doesn’t really produce fruit during a test – That’s the point. We simply run out of options that we can control. All that’s left is our relationship with the Lord and our trust in Him to do what we cannot. When we realize that God has us in His hand, we can simply trust the process, do our best to be faithful to the dream, and let go of the results.
Note: if we don’t let go of some of our prior expectations about life we run the risk of living in an alternate reality and becoming disconnected from our hearts. Survival is when our hearts see the purpose God has behind the trial, embrace it, become grateful for it and resurrect through it. I recommend Surviving Survival by Laurence Gonzales if you’ve been through trauma and are still sorting it out. It’s a secular book that does a great job of describing the experience of life after trauma.
The next two choices are: fellow-shipping with Jesus or getting frustrated and angry. I recommend the former… having tasted both. There are seasons when we really are set aside from our plans, for great victories in the Kingdom, to simply spend time in his presence and surrender to the peace and joy that only He can give. We are more than conquerors, not because we always control our circumstances, but because we are resilient in the face of them – we resurrect.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps 16:11 NKJV
A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Prov 17:22 NKJV
Hope and Humor – Trusting in a season of “processing” by the Holy Spirit and letting go of the results is scary. It’s not just our dream slipping away, it’s our identity. Who we thought we were and where we thought we were going are now up in the air. Yet, if our hope is in him, we can come out the other side of the process and end up smelling like a rose. Not only is the dream intact, but He improved it. Sure there are some changes in our direction and identity – but they are improvements that reveal more of His glory in us.
God has resurrected bad situations in the past, and in hind sight we can all see how he put us in an even better position. He will do it again. Our job is to maintain the dream, receive the improvements, trust the process and let go of the results. God wants our eye on Him. He does want your dream to come true, but if you put the dream before Him, you’re asking for a test. He does want to prosper you, but if you focus on wealth instead of him…
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Prov 23:5 NIV
Grateful – When we see the big picture with respect to our own suffering and trials, we can only be grateful. God will resurrect purpose from it and glory will be the result.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Acts 5:41 KJV
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13 NIV
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:16 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him Phil 1:29 NIV
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10 NIV
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. Rom 5:3-4 NIV