A king wanted to find out if his citizens were truly loyal to him, so he did this: He disguised himself as a foreign invader, and went throughout his kingdom, trying to stir the people to revolt against the king!
Some people fought against him; some tried to get him to obey their king; still others offered to join forces with him.
Finally, the disguised king came to a town where the people were known for their wisdom. He told them of his plans for revolting against their king. They asked him several questions, and then they did nothing!
The disguised king asked them if they felt they were being disloyal to their king. They said, “No. As wise and powerful as our king is, he would never let our enemy get this close to us. Obviously, you’ve been sent by our king to discover whether his people are loyal to him or not!”
When the king heard this, he was pleased with their wisdom and revealed himself to them.
The meaning of this story is simple. Sorrow and trials are God’s disguises for blessings. Once you realize this, the disguise disappears and you see the blessing for what it is.
I used to HATE being tried and tested! I couldn’t figure out why God would let me go through some things He let happen in my life. I’d pray, read my Bible and still couldn’t figure out how a good God could let a nice guy like me have so many problems!
Then, one day the Holy Spirit spoke to me when I was reading James 1:2. It’s a tough verse that I never liked. It says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations.” Decide to get JOY out of that trial you’re going through! How in the world do you do that?
First off, “in the world,” you DON’T do it. You have to be in the Lord to do the things the Bible tells you to do. Then, the Lord has to be in your life. He will teach you how to live an overcoming lifestyle in the midst of the trials and hassles you go through. He helps you pull out the good from even the hardest trials and tests.
See, when you’re tested, you discover where you’re strong and where you’re weak. Trials help you evaluate where you need to work harder; and where you need to give more of your life over to the Lord. Trials help you uncover where the enemy’s gotten a foothold in your life or thinking. When you’re tested in life, you’re able to identify specifically what’s holding you back from being what you should be. Once you know what’s holding you back, you make those specific areas the target of your daily praying. You carry those weaknesses to the Lord and ask Him to work in those areas of your life.
When Jesus starts working on your weaknesses, he turns them into your strengths. The more He works on your weaknesses, the more you grow, and the more your abilities increase. He said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
You always want to work harder on your weaknesses than on your strengths. Besides making you a stronger person, it gives you more areas that you can be useful and helpful to other people.
It’s the discovering of your weaknesses and turning them over to the Lord that gives you the edge that makes you a better person than you ever could be without His help. The constant trials in your life keep you from getting satisfied with yourself, or thinking you’ve “arrived”. (Philippians 3:12).
With each trial, you turn more of your life over to Jesus for rebuilding and restoration. That’s what helps you to believe that you can be better today than you were yesterday. Until the day you’re called home to be with the Lord, you’ll do better than you did the day before. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
The best time to prepare for your next time of trial, temptation or testing is right now. The reason King Rehoboam failed in his time of trial is given in 2 Chronicles 12:14. “He did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.”
The trouble with most of us is we don’t spend much time in preparing for the times that we’ll be tested. We just go day by day, and are totally unprepared when we’re attacked by the enemy, or a trial comes.
When was the last time you intentionally chose an area of personal weakness and made it the object of effort and prayer? Do it now! Choose three or four areas that you KNOW need help, and bring them plainly to the Lord. Lack of spiritual growth is the result of spiritual neglect; spiritual growth is the result of making a godly choice.
Spiritually mature Christians have this trait in common: they take times of temptation, trials and testing in stride. They realize that trails are a necessary part of walking with the Lord, and keeping close to Him.
Throughout life, we’re always being tested. From the day we come into this world, we’re being tested to live, survive and grow. So, tests and trials are nothing abnormal. Once we accept the fact that we’re always going to have tests and trials, we change. We develop a healthy, responsible and spiritual attitude toward our tough times.
Since you’re always going to have temptations, tests and trials, you might as well get good at going through them. You want to be aware of your weaknesses and be prayed up in those areas. You also want to know what your strengths are, so you can know to fall back on them, in time of need.
I believe that the inevitable tests that come are a necessary ingredient to spirituality. Otherwise, we get a little cocky and we go off in our own strength and intellect. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” That’s what Proverbs 16:18 says.
When we go into a trial and fail, which we will do from time to time, we get scared, we get hurt, and we feel pain and discomfort. Sometimes, we even go into denial. We say, “I didn’t fail. God made an exception to the rules in my case! It just LOOKS like I failed!” But, ultimately, there comes a point when we say, “That’s it! I’ve had enough of this! I’m exhausted, tired, weak and worn.”
That’s when you’re ready for massive change. You know that you can’t afford to have a negative attitude. You know that people are watching you closely to see how you are going to react when you’re in pain. They really test your devotion to Jesus when you’re not doing your best. That’s why you’ve got to be solid, even when you’re down.
The pain of failing causes us to ask “why?” Why did I fall? Why did I fall? What went wrong?”
The answer to those questions always lead us back to the basics. It forces us to rediscover the Lord as a Forgiver, a Cleanser, a Savior and a Friend. And, it reminds us that we NEED Him. We get back in touch with Him and what our real relationship with Him truly is.
In other words, failure in a time of trial is a signal that we’ve gotten away from the basics. We’ve neglected our walk with Jesus and have taken things into our own hands. Once we’ve reestablished the basics, we can begin moving forward again.
When you fail, there are three basic responses you can have. One is to become paralyzed with fear, and just “turn off.” You get numb, stuck in a rut and stay there in the place of your failure. You neither grow, nor turn away from God. You just chill out.
The second way you might respond is to go into “awfulizing.” You keep telling yourself what an awful, worthless individual you’ve become, and how you might as well quit trying. There’s no use. You’re just too lousy a person to keep going to church and reading your Bible and trying to serve God.
The third response is to ask, “What can I learn from that humiliating failure? What can I do differently next time?” Giving up your old ways and habits is hard, but what’s harder than that would be giving up your walk with the Lord. You realize, what’s more painful: the occasional pain of changing your attitude, or the ongoing pain of giving up your walk with Jesus?
There’s no such thing as life without failures. What should you do when you realize you’ve failed? First off, be honest. Admit that you’ve done wrong, made a mistake, did the wrong thing. It’s important to be able to admit you’re wrong. Then, learn from that mistake.
Of course, when you’re tired and tested and come out victorious, that’s wonderful. But, you can’t expect a never-ending series of uninterrupted victories. That’s why you have to put both your failings and your victories in the Lord’s hands. Don’t let either one go to your head.
Spiritually mature Christians make a lifelong commitment to staying on course. No matter what comes their way, they find cause to rejoice, learn and grow.