Summary: How to respond to hardships and disappointments and actually benefit from the process.
The Trying of Your Faith
During our teaching from the book of Judges we talked a lot about trouble that comes as a consequence of sin. The recurring cycle in that book involved God sending trouble to correct Israel’s disobedience –the chastening of the Lord coming upon His children because they are living in disobedience to Him. Jonah experienced it when he ran away from God’s calling on his life. David experienced it when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Most of us here have some first hand experience with that kind of trouble. The law of sowing and reaping is one of the first lessons a young Christian learns.
But trouble in a Christian’s life is not always a consequence of sin or disobedience. Job’s so-called comforters thought it was. They had a very simple theology: “If you do good, then good things happen to you. If you do bad, then bad things happen to you.” That is a very inadequate explanation of life even though it is true some of the time. This morning I want to talk about difficulties that are not the result of disobedience. Why do they come? And how should we respond to them when they do come?
Let’s begin by hearing a testimony from a Christian lady who encountered this kind of trial. Her name is Pam. See if you can identify with her experience.
(Illustrate Volume one)
(>>Breaking Points>>Pam-loss of husband)
Here was a Christian woman trying to live for God with four children and suddenly her husband dies of a heart attack. She didn’t deserve that. It didn’t happen because of some sin in her life. What is going on in this kind of situation?
In 1 Peter 4:12 the apostle wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” Why did Peter tell these Christians to not think that the ordeal that had come into their lives was some strange, abnormal thing for a Christian to experience? I think it was because that was exactly what they were tempted to think. Did you notice how Pam kept saying “why”? Questions do come to our mind when we feel we are doing our best to serve God and wham-we’re hit with some unexpected disappointment or hardship. Job has a whole lot of questions concerning the things that had happened to him. His counselors had very inadequate answers—so inadequate they had to ask Job to pray for them before it was all over with. Can you imagine how painful it would be for someone like Pam to be told that this is happening because of some sin she has obviously committed?
How do we deal with this kind of trial?
I. Recognize that it is a common Christian experience.
One of the cardinal rules I was taught in secular management was to not assume things. It is easy to just assume that being God’s favored children means everything will go smooth and our Heavenly Father will shield us from the kind of hardship Pam went through. But is that a biblical assumption? It is no doubt what we would like to hear. But let me just give you a few verses to dispel that myth.