A defendant was on trial for murder in Oklahoma. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defense’s closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all,” the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.” He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly.
A minute passed. Nothing happened. Finally the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. I, therefore, put it to you that there is reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty.” The jury, clearly confused, retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty. “But how?” inquired the lawyer. “You must have had some doubt; I saw all of you stare at the door.” Answered the jury foreman: “Oh, we did look. But your client didn’t.”
No one likes to be put through trials of any kind, especially if its because of our actions that they’re happening. Trials make us uncomfortable and they test our endurance, they seem to always come when you’re least prepared and they almost always come unwelcome.
Just so we don’t get off track, there is a difference between trials and temptations. Temptations come from the enemy to make us weaker. Trials come from the Father to make us stronger. That doesn’t mean that they’re easier to endure, it just means that the purpose for each is vastly different.
Scripture reminds us of three truths we must remember when we face a trial. First it is important to understand that trials come to every believer because true faith must be tested.
Even Abraham, the one that God chose to lead His people, was chosen to undergo trial. In Genesis 22:1-2 it reminds us, “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Abraham didn’t question God and he did what he was told, sure that God would provide even if he didn’t know why this was happening or how God would provide in the end. The Bible tells us that God rewarded Abraham for His faithfulness and made him the father of many nations. (Side note, Isaac was replaced with a ram for the sacrifice). The testing showed God the faithfulness of Abraham, but, more importantly, it showed Abraham the faithfulness of God.
Secondly, trials work FOR US, not against us. In Romans 8:26-28 it says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In every trial, there is a purpose. Some trials teach while other warn. Some trials direct us toward something, some trials caution us to stay away. But Every trial works together for the good of both the person undergoing the trial and all those who are affected by it through their association. From 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
Finally, trials help us to mature in patience. Romans 5:4-5 tells us that, “..endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Our trials can either break us or they can make us stronger. That strength is gained through the patience of endurance which leads us to hope as a sign of God’s unending love.
We’re reminded again of this in James 1:3-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” So, be steadfast through your trials because God has a reason for each one. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father. Give us strength through every trial and make us steadfast in our faith in You. Lead us to understanding and help us to learn what we must through our trials. Amen