Summary: staying faithful through trials. Rejoice because they are doing you good.
This morning, I want us to look at the biblical viewpoint of the trials that occur in our lives. And the first thing that I want to do is to differentiate between consequences and trials. The reason that I feel that this is necessary is that most of us want to think of them as the same, but they are not. When we think of them as the same, we often blame God for trials, when in actuality, we are just suffering the consequences of our own choices.
Consequences do not have to bad things. There are good and bad consequences. However, many times, they are things that we have to deal with because we have sinned in some fashion and we now have to deal with the consequences of that sin. These are far more common that they should be.
We just went to Western Christian’s school play “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” In the play, and the movie by the same name, the brothers kidnap the women that they like from the closest town to their farm. Spoiler alert coming! The young women like the brothers as well. Obviously, the fathers and would-be suitors of these young women chase the brothers, but they cause an avalanche to occur, which separates the town from the farm until the spring. During that time, the young women’s honor is protected by the matriarch of the family, the eldest brother’s new wife. She has a baby just prior to the snow thaw. The brothers know that the fathers are coming and so do the young women, who are now firmly in love with the young men and do not want to return to the town. So when the dads show up and see the baby, they want to know who had the baby. Every one of the girls say that they did. Since they will not divulge who the actual mother of the baby is, every last one of them is ‘forced’ to marry the young man that they are in love with.
Why were they ‘forced’ to marry the young men? Because, back then, this was the consequence for having a child out of wedlock. They had to deal with the consequence of their supposed indiscretion.
Every single one of us has had to deal with the consequences of something in our lives. It can be as simple as the choices we make in the things that we choose to eat. If you choose to eat meat and potatoes, as I do, you have to live with the extra girth that you will almost certainly acquire. You may also have high cholesterol and heart problems that are associated with a high-fat diet.
When we have children, there are consequences. Brad, when you and Cindy had Connor, did your lives change in any way? Of course it did. Whenever we have children there are consequences. Some consequences are good. We have a new life that we will cherish for the rest of our own life. We have someone to pour our lives into and bring up in the way that they should go. There are certainly drawbacks as well. When they are young, you don’t go to the same restaurants that you used to go to. You don’t just go wherever you want to go whenever you want to. You have someone else to think about.
The same is true for marriage. The consequence of joining with someone in marriage is that you should begin to put away some of the selfish things that you used to do because you want to please your spouse. When Paula and I got married, the guys that I played ball with didn’t understand why I would rather get home and spend the evening with my wife instead of hanging out with them after work. As a consequence of getting married, my priorities had changed.
These are all consequences. They are not trials. Trials are either things that are put in our paths or they may come as a result of a fallen, diseased world. They could also be as a result of our Christianity. Standing up for Jesus can be fraught with danger in many countries around the world. Life-threatening diseases such as cancer are certainly one aspect of trials that many of us or our family members have had to face. Sometimes, it is the loss of our loved ones. It could be the loss of a job. They could be any number of things that come our way. Whatever the actual trial is, Jesus tells us (John 16:33):
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In the NT, there are two main words used when describing the trials or troubles that we are called to go through. One of them is thlipsis, which is affliction or oppression. The other is peirasmos, which is translated as a test or trial. Both of these words are used when describing the things that we must face in this world, and most of us are familiar with them both.