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There's a scripture in the Bible that says, "In the world you have tribulation and trials" (John 16:33 AMP). I believe most people would agree with it. If you read the rest of that verse, you get to the encouraging part where Jesus says we can take heart because He has overcome the world. But the truth is, we all go through hard times and have to learn how to overcome them through Christ.
Sometimes God allows or even arranges for us to go through difficulties in this life because it's during those times that we grow in our faith and develop more of the character of Christ. Trials reveal what we really believe and what's really inside our hearts. They test us. And until we're in a situation where we have no choice but to face an issue we need to deal with, we don't really know what we would do.
James 1:2 (AMP) says we should "consider it wholly joyful" when we experience a trial or face a temptation. Verse 3 goes on to say that "the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience." That sounds lovely to have endurance, steadfastness and patience during trials, doesn't it?
I remember the days when I would get upset and complain whenever things didn't go my way. I had no peace and was emotionally unstable. When I was tested by trials, they brought out the jealousy, confusion and negative attitudes that were in my heart. But through the years, as I've studied the Word and learned how to trust God, I have developed more of the qualities and character of Christ in my life. Now, I'm much more patient and don't act much different when I'm in a trial than when I'm not. But it took a lot of trials to get me to this point.
It's God's will for us to stay in peace and make decisions with godly wisdom in every circumstance in our lives. We can face our trials and tests with joy when we understand that it's by going through them that we learn how to live in God's peace, joy and wisdom all the time—whatever our circumstances may be.
So how do we pass our tests? What are some temptations we can have when we're going through something that's really tough? Here are several common ones I've discovered:
1. We can be tempted to go back to an old habit or addiction we've been set free from. I smoked for many years, and after I quit, there was period of time when I would want a cigarette whenever I was upset or felt pressured by something. If there are habits or addictions that have been broken in your life, the devil will try to tempt you to go back to them when you're having a hard time. Submit yourself to God, humble yourself before Him, and He will give you the strength to resist the temptation.
2. We can be tempted to be angry with God and resent people who don't have the same problems we have or who have things we want, especially things we think would make our lives easier. This leads to complaining, and God wants us to totally get over complaining because it affects our lives in a destructive way more than we realize. So when you're tempted to be angry with God or other people and complain, set your mind to praise Him instead and thank Him for His goodness in your life.
3. Trials can tempt us to become indignant and say things like, "Why is this happening to me? I don't understand why this is happening to me?!" We don't tend to think this way when other people have problems, and it's easy to look at them and say, "You just need to trust God and press through this…" Instead of wondering why and feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to say, "Don't panic…this is only a test!" Because the truth of the matter is, this too will pass, and we'll get through it with more peace and stability if we'll trust God to do what is best for us at the right time and in His way.
4. We can also be tempted to take matters into our own hands. Have you ever thought, "I'm not going to put up with this any more! I'm going to do something about this!" When we take matters into our own hands, we delay or miss the blessing that God wants to give us. Instead, we need to be determined to trust God and wait on Him to work things out.
God loves you so much and He has a great plan for your life. Trust that He's in control and will work things out for your good when you're going through a trial. The next time you're being tested, tell God, "I trust You. This is good for me! It doesn't feel good, but I know You will work it out for my good." You'll get closer to God as you go through the test, and on the other side, you'll thank Him for using it to make you more like Christ.