Christians should not be surprised when trials and difficulties come into their lives. Concerning this Peter wrote:
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12, 13).
God will allow evil men to work against us. We will be lied about, cheated, and treated unfairly. We will face Sabbath work problems and be tempted not to return tithes and offerings to God. Many challenges will come our way, but we must remember that God is allowing these trials for a reason. He wants us to remain faithful to Him as we patiently wait on Him to get us through the difficult time, confidently trusting in His master plan.
Think about the disciples on the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion. All hope was gone. The One they had placed their faith in as the Messiah was dead. The future looked dark and bleak. Fear and discouragement filled their hearts. From man’s perspective this was the greatest tragedy, but from God’s perspective it was the greatest victory.
As Christians we will experience similar times. Events will take place that will try our faith. Yet when we know we serve a sovereign God, we can be assured that God is still with us, working out His eternal purpose in our life. We will be able to wait patiently on the Lord for deliverance.
God also allows Satan’s evil plans to be carried out to a certain extent in order to vindicate God. Paul wrote of this to the Ephesians:
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my suffering for you, which are your glory” (Eph. 3:10-13, NIV).
Through all of the events of earth, both good and bad from man’s perspective, God will reveal His wisdom to the universe. The plans of Satan and evil men will actually work together for the vindication of God Himself. In the end “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and . . . every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10, 11).
It is wonderful, encouraging, and reassuring to know that God’s council and plans will be carried out in our lives, in the church, and in this world. We do not serve a God who is in heaven “wishing” things would go better for His people or who is “wishing” evil men wouldn’t treat His people so badly. We do not serve an impotent God. We serve a sovereign, all-powerful God whose plans are not hindered or stopped by His creation—Satan, man, or nature. The following promises reveal this truth very clearly:
“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30, NIV).
“For the Lord of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?” (Isa. 14:27).
“Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’ ” (Isa. 46:9, 10).
Evil men may plot and scheme against you. Satan will try to discourage and destroy you. God will allow you to go through very trying times. However, if you know beyond doubt that God is sovereign and that He will work whatever He allows to come into your life for your good, you can then wait in patient, faithful, and hopeful trust in God’s divine providence. Always remember:
“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns’ ” (1 Chron. 16:31).
Personal Reflection and Discussion
1. Why should Christians not be surprised when difficult trials come into their lives?
2. How did the disciples react when Jesus was crucified? How would you have reacted?
3. How was the cross of Christ a good event?
4. What is God revealing through the events that happen to His people and church?
5. List two scriptures that reveal that God is sovereign over all mankind.
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.
3. Pray for God to help you remain faithful to Him in trying times.
4. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”