Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trials and Tests

Today I spoke to my husband in Afghanistan. He was feeling very discouraged about his job, and personnel issues. When he was home, some guys tried to stage a coup, went over the heads of everyone on his base and made a bunch of accusations. They accused people of falsifying time cards and sleeping when they should have been working. Serious stuff. It turns out that his foreman who was left in charge while Bill was on vacation was guilty. He did falsify the records. So he and a bunch of other guys got fired, and here is my husband with a huge mess in his department. Bill is a man of integrity, trying to walk in obedience to God, trying to do things God's way. There are lessons here...and they apply to us all.

#1. Even when you do everything right, the way you are supposed to, things can happen.  Even when you are following God in obedience, you will have trials. Precious metals are forged in fire and so are we. Fire brings out the true character of gold, and it reveals our character as well.  The Message bible says it like this in James 1:2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. Fiery trials produce character. We are who we are today, because of the things we have experienced in our lives, both good and bad.

#2. Every test and trial has something good that can come out of it if you will choose to be better instead of bitter.  Romans 8:28 in the NKJV says it this way...And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Trust that God is going to bring something good out of everything that happens in your life. If you are in a trial, ask God to show you what His purposes are for you. Ask Him to show you what the place of blessing is. When Corrie ten Boom was in the concentration camp in WWII, they were infested with terrible fleas. She told the girls in her barracks to thank God for the fleas. It kept the guards out of the building and they are able to have a secret bible study. If you haven't read the book, The Hiding Place, I recommend it. Choose to be better. Choose to thank God in the midst of whatever you are going through. You will be surprised at the blessings that come.

#3. If we can bless those who are persecuting us, and pray for those who spitefully use us, then we are opening ourselves up to a blessing. We are opening the door for God to move in our behalf. Not my words, but the words of Jesus in Luke 6:28. When we have people who are doing their best to do us damage, our first reaction is to get really mad, and start to talk and say bad things. That is human nature. If we can practice speaking forgiveness and blessing over those people, it opens the doors of heaven and starts a chain reaction of God's working in our behalf.

The normal reaction of people in trials is to complain, get angry, and say,"Why me?"  If we can learn to cultivate and attitude of gratitude in the midst of difficulty, and learn to speak blessings over others, we will find things changing. We will have the help we need to overcome obstacles and find our way through. If we can learn these lessons, we will be amazed at the things that can happen in the midst of the fire. We will turn to gold, and become people of great character.

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