Trials, Tribulations & Sufferings

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the bad people of this world seem to have it so easy and how come they are not being punished?  Why does God allow His Christian people to suffer? Doesn’t God care for His people? Has God turned His back on us?  These are some of the questions I needed answers to because in October of 2008 after sixteen years as a trucking dispatcher I was laid off. My life up until that point was sailing along fairly smoothly. I was 55 years old and my plans for retirement in ten years were going according to plan. I would go to church every Sunday morning, pray and pay my tithes; I thought that this was going to last until the day I retired.

Then in October of 2008 the bottom fell out. At 55 years old I have a wife and two small children and no way to support them. Why was I going through this now at the latter years of my life? I thought as a Christian life would become easier. My mother in law who lives in Japan was talking to my wife on the phone about this very subject and said to my wife that every Christian that she has ever known has always had bad things happen to them and she couldn’t figure out why anybody would want to be a Christian.

I am a Christian and my wife is not. The ridicule and constant badgering from my wife about how Christians are losers has made me feel like Job in the Old Testament, when Job lost all his wealth and all his family except for his wife. His wife’s advice to Job was “why don’t you curse God and die.” God allowed Satan to put Job to the test. Satan took everything away from Job but notice that Satan left Job’s wife behind. I am positive that was not by accident but by design, just to add to Job’s misery.

So why are my family and I going through these hard times? What is God’s purpose in all of this? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this subject and let’s see if we can find any comfort in God’s word. I started by looking up suffering and found out that there is a lot said about this subject.

2 Timothy 3:12

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Philippians 1:29

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

The Bible is very clear on this point. If you desire to live godly in Christ the Bible says you will suffer. There’s no maybe about it.  Since we are to be followers of Christ then as followers of Christ we are to suffer as He has suffered. All this suffering that we are going to be going through must have a purpose. I know that Christ had to suffer to pay for our salvation so what is the purpose of our suffering?

2 Corinthians 1:7

And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Philippians 3:8

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Sufferings definitely serve a purpose in us drawing closer to God. The above verses states that if we partake in the sufferings we will also partake of the consolation. Paul the apostle declares “I have suffered the loss of all things that I may gain Christ.”  It appears that the things of this world that were so important to us before we became Christians is now considered by the apostle Paul as “rubbish”.

1 Peter 2:21

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

There you have it. Christ suffered for us and we are to follow His steps. What could possibly be gained by us suffering as Christ suffered? We know that Jesus being God could have been born rich and have had a very pleasant life here on earth but instead He chose to live a life of hardship, poverty and suffering. Why would He do this? What could possibly be gained by a life of poverty and struggle?

I looked up trials, tribulation and sufferings in my Bible concordance and found out that the Bible says that there are many valuable benefits from our sufferings.

1 Peter 4:1

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

1 Peter 5:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

We are to arm ourselves with the same mind that Christ had when He suffered for us in the flesh. This is a far cry from what I been hearing on the television on Sunday mornings. This one preacher who I will leave as nameless is selling out auditoriums and telling the people that God wants you to have a comfortable life if you will just have faith and not let any negative thoughts enter into your mind. I am all for having faith and not letting any negative thoughts enter my mind but at the same time my faith is established in my mind from what the Bible says. If the Bible says that trials and tribulations are put in my life to benefit me as a person then I believe it would be wise for me to let God’s will be done in my life.

Romans 5:3

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

Romans 5:4

and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Not only are we to accept that trials and tribulations are there for our benefit we are also to glory in them because we know that because of the trials and tribulations God is working in our lives and if God is working in our lives it means we are His and we are going to heaven.

2 Peter 1:5

 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,

2 Peter 1:6

to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,

All these qualities are derived from the trials and tribulations that we endure. It also appears that achieving one quality would then lead to another quality for us to achieve until one by one all the qualities are obtained.

Hebrews 5:8

Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

James 1:3

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

All the trials and tribulations are put there for our benefit. We are to learn the lessons that each trial teaches us and then more on to the next. We have to realize that when we ask God for patience He will then put obstacles in our path until we learn how to be patient. Each quality will have its own unique set of problems to overcome.

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

It appears to me that all these qualities must be some of the same qualities that God Himself possesses. God is telling you and me that He wants us to be just like Him.

Let’s take all these benefits of trials, tribulations and sufferings and put these in a list so we can see exactly what these benefits are:

·         Ceased from sin

·         Love

·         Patience

·         Gentleness

·         Perfect us

·         Establish us

·         Strengthen us

·         Settle us

·         Perseverance

·         Character

·         Hope

·         Faith

·         Virtue

·         Knowledge

·         Self control

·         righteousness

·         Godliness

·         Obedience

You can look at the above list as a list of goals that God has for us. When I first looked at this list I said to myself “no way will I ever be able to achieve all these qualities.” I was right when I said that I couldn’t do it. The only way to achieve these qualities is through God. We don’t possess the power within ourselves to even get close to achieving these qualities.

These are the same steps that Jesus took and He is telling us to follow his steps. God wouldn’t tell us to do it unless it was doable. We know that this is God’s will for us and God says that if we pray for anything according to His will He will grant it to us.

1 John 5:14

 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Is the Bible really telling us that we are to achieve perfection and Godliness here on earth? I never thought that it would be possible for me to achieve perfection in my lifetime.  The next verse is telling us that as Jesus is, so are we in this world.

1 John 4:17

 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.

Looking at what God wants for my life and looking back at some of my prayers I can now see why I didn’t receive an answer. God is looking at the complete picture of my existence knowing where I am going to end up and God wants only what’s best for me to achieve my purpose.

Matthew 5:48

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

1 Peter 1:16

because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Trials, tribulations and sufferings are the way to achieve readiness for the kingdom of heaven. If you have faith and know that the trials are there to perfect you it will change how you react to the problems that come your way. When I go through trials I like to think of going through these trials as job training. God’s preparing us to help the human beings during the millennium and God knows that if we are to relate to the human beings we are going to have to go through the same sufferings as they are going through.

The kids today have a saying that when they relate to each other they say “I feel ya.” The only way to “feel ya” is for us to go through the same experiences as they are going through. When I was going through a divorce my pain was so great that my only consolation came when I talked to other people who had experienced a divorce themselves.

2 Corinthians 1:4

who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

Hebrews 2:18

For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

The road to godliness is a process that has to be taken in steps or from glory to glory. Sufferings are a major player in the steps to perfection.

2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed the same image into from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Hebrews 2:10

 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

I find myself going through one trial after another. Just when one trial is over there is another trial waiting to take the place of the first trial. I believe all these trials are put in our lives to perfect us and make us better people. I know these trials are very hard to understand especially when we are going through them. It’s easier to better understand why you are going through a trial if you wait for the trial to be over and then look back. You can learn a lot from each trial and get through them quicker if you remember not to complain to God about what’s happening and ask God to help you learn each lesson completely so you won’t have to repeat the same lesson.

Remember when you are experiencing some really hard trials don’t complain. When you complain you are really complaining against God. You are questioning God’s control in your life and showing Him your lack of faith. My late Mother would always say “the more I complain the worse it gets.” She never tied the two together and realized that her complaining was the cause for things getting worse.

Exodus 16:8

Also Moses said, “This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD.”

Philippians 2:14

Do all things without complaining and disputing,

You may be saying to yourself that this lesson in suffering is too big a price to pay. I believe that the great tribulation is just around the corner which means you can either suffer now and become a more complete person and go to heaven or you can have it better now and really suffer later in the tribulation. Either way sufferings are in our future.

This reminds me of what Jon Courson said. He said that life is like flying in an airplane and you have a choice. You can either have a real bumpy ride and a smooth landing or you can have a real smooth ride and a crash landing.

You can have a real bumpy ride and a smooth landing;

Revalation 3:10

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Or you can have a smooth ride now and a crash landing;

Matthew 24:21

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Unfortunately we as human beings tend to learn our best lessons through adversity. When things are going great for us we just seem to get fat, lazy and selfish. Looking back at some of the trials that I faced I can honestly say that the trials have made me a better person. Everything that happens to a child of God happens for a reason. It’s there to make us better people. When I come across people who have gone through the same experiences that I have we become instant friends and talk to each other as if we knew each other all our lives. I believe each and every experience that we endure is put there to make us better people.

Romans 8:17

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

James 1:2

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

Counting it all joy when you fall into various trials is not an easy thing to do. Was I supposed to celebrate when my wife left me for another man? Was I supposed to call my mortgage company and thank them for foreclosing on my home? That’s not what is meant by this verse. This verse is saying that when the trails come upon you to be joyful because by these trials you know that God is working in your life. If you have an easy life without any trials then you need to re-examine your life. If you are on the right path evil forces will do everything in their power to stop you and if you are on the wrong path everything with move along smoothly.

Isaiah 55:9

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.

If you know why you are here and where you are going I believe when the trials come knowing why the trials are there makes it easier to cope with the situation. Keep in mind that the wicked go through trials also. The Bible says it rains on the just and unjust alike. God does promise the believer that He will be with you and never leave you so you do have a friend to help you go through the trials.

In my mind I know that Christ is coming for His church and we are His church. The Bible says that while the people of the earth are going through the great tribulation we will be with Christ in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb joining ourselves with Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We know that the tribulation is seven years in duration which means we are to be with Jesus Christ for seven years in heaven. I always assumed it was going to be at that time that God’s people would then be orientated for the return of Jesus Christ to the planet earth to begin the 1000 year reign of Christ. I never dreamed that the orientation or the training of God’s people to rule and reign with Him on earth was already under way here on the earth.

In the millennium we will be representing Jesus Christ in the care of humanity. It will be necessary for us to posses the same qualities as our Lord possesses so that God’s will, will be done.

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