I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Yodit Kifle Smith
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial..."
A while back, a sister in the Lord reached out, asking me to pray for the trials she and her family were going through. In that message she wrote something that challenged and encouraged me. She wrote “instead of asking God to take it away, pray that I can endure through it.”
I found myself re-reading that sentence in amazement. Regardless of how weak she felt, those words spoke volumes to me of the strength that God had already given her to ask to persevere instead of asking that God would take the trials away.
None of us welcome hardship and pain with open arms. It’s not comfortable, nor is it pleasant. However, because we live in a fallen world plagued by sin, we will all go through it. It's inevitable. There are various reasons why we experience hardships and pain. Our own actions may have brought about it. Maybe our trials and pain are because of someone else’s actions or it can be things like physical illness or death where we are left without answers as to why they come. Regardless of the kind of trial, we want it to end. Now.
But how many of us have uttered those words my sister did and pray that the Lord give you strength to endure the trial instead of removing it? I can’t say I have been quick to utter those words.
The Bible is filled with humanity’s relationship with trials and pain. We are probably most familiar with Job’s story- an upright man whom God granted permission to Satan to test his commitment and character through pain and tribulation. The only thing was that Satan could not kill him. While there is so much in this story that God shows us about Himself, about ourselves and our understanding of God, what we do see clearly is that Job endured the trial. Yes, he cried out and doubted if God even heard him. Yes, his closest friends tempted him to look more at his trials than look to his God, but he endured. Despite the emotional roller-coaster, Job chose to look intently at God and trust in God’s goodness. At the end, he powerfully concluded that before the trials, he knew of God and had heard of His goodness, but it was through the adversity that he really saw God. He saw that though he didn’t understand all of God’s ways, He is still good. He is still worthy. (Job 42: 3-6)
When Job’s story is taught from the pulpit, the focus is most often on the restoration of Job’s material wealth rather than the beautiful truth that Job wasn’t looking to see what or how God was going to repay him for going through the trial. Though with impatience and doubt, he committed to look at God because he recognized that God was his reward, even in the excruciating pain he suffered.
For us who are believers, while we have the privilege of identifying with the victory we have in Christ because of His death and resurrection, we also have to understand that we are called to identify with the suffering of Christ. Paul confidently declares “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death” (Philippians 3:10). Our Lord endured so that we would be set free from the pain and destruction of sin so we can be in fellowship with God. But He also endured so that we can endure. He is our example. (1 Peter 2:21)
We are not immune to hardship and suffering as Christians. In fact, the Word tells us to not be surprised when we do suffer (1 Peter 4:12), especially the kind of suffering that comes from bearing the name of Jesus. While we are not immune to suffering, being in Christ gives us the glorious hope that our suffering and trial is not the end of us nor is it in vain. Enduring is evidence that Christ is in us, working out His good will to resemble Him clearer, trust in Him deeper and cling to Him tighter.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:1-4)
We have a God who gives encouragement and perseverance (Romans 15:5). He does't leave us to our devices. We don’t have to succumb to the weight of the trial because God can lift our eyes to see that our trials, as painful as they may be, are producing in us beautiful work (2 Corinthians 4:17) that fortifies our faith. It tests the grounds we stand on, hoping that we be found standing in Christ, our Solid Rock.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Sisters, I pray that as you find yourself in hardship, you will cry out like David did to God,
"…from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy." (Psalm 61: 2-3)
Know that you are coming out refined like gold by the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t rush to get out of the furnace. Let it finish its work.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
James (read through the book this week)
Job 42: 3-6
1 Peter 2:21
1 Peter 4:12
2 Corinthians 4:17
Questions to Reflect on: