Summary: We can expect trials because we live in a fallen world. We can expect some of our difficulties to originate from God Himself, and we will bring hardship upon ourselves because we are not perfect.
Faith Expectations Part 5
[This lesson and this series are drawn from the writings of Tom Allen in his book “What to expect now that you believe.”]
This lesson is another in the series titled Faith Expectations. I know it is probably true of many gathered here tonight, I know it true for myself, that when we had obeyed the call of the gospel, accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and been Baptized into Him there were great expectations of what our faith would do in us, for us, and through us. And we are justified in these expectations:
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
John 10:10b “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
We are right to have high hopes for our faith. As believers we should never lose the “great expectations” of our faith especially since the greatest expectation is yet to come, that being the return of our Lord and Savior. Until that day it remains for us to balance our expectations with the reality of living as sojourners in this world. And so let us consider a great expectation of our faith: Expect Trials.
It would not surprise me to find that many of us here have known someone, a brother or sister in Christ, who had fallen victim to an unexpected serious illness which led to death. It may have happened to the child of someone we knew. That was my experience. A young Christian couple expecting their first child when complications arose and the child died unborn without apparent cause. It was devastating to them, to their families, and to the congregation. Many people affected beyond the mother and father but obviously none as deeply as they. Why did it happen? Was God mad at the parents? Was there some secret sin which lead to this trial? Why these two and not someone else, someone not of the body of Christ? And if it could happen to these solid children of God is anyone safe?
I.Good News, Bad News
A.We have discussed the expectations of our faith: Blessings, Forgiveness, Peace, and Joy.
1.Now we begin to explore the expectations of: Trials, Temptation, Persecution and Doubt.
2.Bad News some might say but I hope through the course of these lessons we will see that even Bad News is pretty good when God is in the mix.
B.Scripture indicate the inevitability of trials
1.James 1:2 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…”
John 16:33b “…In the world you have tribulation…”
Acts 14:22c “…Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
2.Expectations aside, we usually react to trials as if they are unexpected. The inevitability doesn’t sink in.
3.We search for that trial free, stress free, tribulation free life that doesn’t exist in this world.
C.On top of that, we expect trials to be fair
1.We seem to believe there should be some standard limit to the amount or intensity anyone of us should experience.
2.A “limit one per customer” attitude.
3.Often there is no rhyme or reason; some people seem to coast through life with only minor skirmishes along the way. Others are embroiled in one ordeal after another.
4.We won’t know the answer to that one until faith is made sight and the answers to every question is available to us.
II.Blame It On Adam and Eve
A.Why do we live in a world where we must expect trials?
1.One answer lies at the very beginning: Genesis 3:16-19
a.Thorns and weeds in our garden and in our lives trace back to this moment in history.
b.The fall of Adam and Eve changed the course of all human existence and it’s been down hill ever since.
c.Trials exist because of original sin.
2.The connection is sometimes vague and indirect.
a.A sudden illness leading to death is not directly attributable to sin but in a sense all illness and disease is attributable to the fall of Adam and Eve.
3.Sometimes the link between sin and trial is very direct.
a.Someone gets drunk and gets behind the wheel of a car and kills someone.
b.That person’s sin and lawlessness will directly cause trials for themselves and the family of the victim.
4.This is why scripture is not quick to lay the responsibility for trials on God.
a.We are collectively accountable for our fallen world, from Adam to me and you today.
b.Our disobedience can create an opportunity in which trials will come.
III.God May Bring Trials
B.Some trials may exist because God had orchestrated them.
1.Can we say, “God gave me this hardship”? At times: yes.
a.The suffering of Job is referred to: “the adversities that the LORD had brought on him.” Job 42:11