I read this by Tony Evans recently and while it’s not profound, I like how he separates trials from the problems we create for ourselves.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Notice the Bible does not say if you encounter trials, but when. Trials are inescapable.
Trials are difficulties we inevitably run into as part of life, not necessarily the problems we create for ourselves. Those kinds of problems are called sin. So if you’re going through a tough time right now, don’t be surprised. If you have just exited a trial, don’t be shocked when the next one arrives. Trials come with living in an imperfect world.
I find that often we confuse trials sent from God (He does by the way.) with problems we create for ourselves. I find it important to distinguish the two. When we don’t, confession gets put on the back burner because we don’t realize we have sins to confess! After all, we don’t have to confess a trial if it’s sent by God, do we?
Do you see where I am heading?
I’ve talked to countless Christians who get these two mixed up. I have even talked to professing “Christians” who can’t understand why they’re so depressed while all the time they are having an affair! (Of course, I often didn’t know that last part ’till later.)
I’ve seen this played out often in all different scenarios and it never ceases to amaze me.
Just so you know, I’ve done it myself.
I’ve confused a God-allowed trial with a self-induced problem.
How do we know the difference?
It can be hard. Really hard.
I think when we face what we think is a “trial” we must first examine ourselves. We must ask God to examine us and we must be open to his searching eye. We must be willing to confess if we’ve had anything to do with our current situation.
I started writing this yesterday. I just now got home from the hospital. I posted quickly yesterday that I had taken my husband to the ER for possible heart issues. It is looking like it is not his heart but until he has more tests tomorrow, we can’t be sure.
So what is this that we’re going through, a trial or a problem we’ve brought on ourselves?
This one is easy.
It’s a trial. I don’t believe it’s from God in this case but God knew it was on the horizon and he allowed it to happen. Here’s how I know it’s not any of our making.
I know this because my husband is truly disciplined when it comes to his health. We walk two miles every day but he often walks more when he’s fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing. He eats right; doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t drink any alcohol. Like I said, he’s totally disciplined.
So this is a trial. A trial I don’t like very much.
(Here’s the back story.)The past few days, I started experiencing a severe heaviness in my chest, like an elephant was sitting on it. In the past, this would always be anxiety. I had not had a feeling like this in years so I was dumbfounded. I could not figure out where it came from. I couldn’t put my finger on any cause.
“What in the world?” I thought to myself.
I found myself clinging to God like I hadn’t for a long time. I wore myself out sending up SOS prayers.
Then there was this morning when I knew my husband and I were in a crisis and I immediately thought, “This is what I was being prepared for.” It wasn’t anxiety. It wasn’t a panic attack. It wasn’t depression. It was truly a warning, a heads-up that something was not right. I can’t explain it, but I just knew something was wrong somewhere.
I’ve had these little “heads-up” from God too often not to recognize them when they come.
But I’m in dangerous territory now, even if everything turns out OK. I am great in a crisis. I always have been. (Hmmm, maybe because I grew up in a chaotic environment.) But after the crisis, I’m not so good. Satan has a field day with me. I second guess myself. I question my faith. I wonder if I should have done something different.
(I sure hope there are some of you out there like me. Hope I’m not the only one.)
But here’s some good stuff.
Later in the afternoon, the hospital chaplain came up for a visit. We chatted for a minute. I told him I had been a hospital chaplain at this very hospital years ago. Then he mentioned he was also a pastor of a very small church, thirty people. The church we attend when we are in town is about six hundred. Quite a difference, huh?
But we are seriously considering attending his church to check it out. He was funny, smart, and I liked everything about how he expressed his faith. When he prayed with us, I really felt his connection to God.
We haven’t been really happy at our present church but all the other churches in our area are very much like our church. But a thirty member church that doesn’t even meet in a church might be just the ticket. So that was an added bonus.
And then there is this:
We have prayed hard for a wake-up call for someone whose health is compromised because of their health habits. Here’s the thing though, I didn’t want God to use my husband to make his point! God and I have had a couple of “back ‘n’ forths” over this. (My husband says I better start watching how I pray. 🙂
I hope none of you are going through a trial now. But if you are, make sure it’s a trial and not a problem you’ve created.
One last thing. I think sometimes something starts out as a trial and then we complicate it by our interference. We sometimes try to take things into our own hands or we rush ahead, or we lag behind and we make it worse.
And one more last thing. God doesn’t suspend his mercy or compassion just because it’s a problem we created ourselves. Thank goodness. If he did, we’d all be doomed. It’s just that recovery may take longer and there may be harder consequences.
We serve a God of great compassion.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.
ps. I may or may not get back to you tomorrow. It’s going to be a long day. Please pray.
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