Without going into specifics, my Christian experience has not always been an easy one. That's why it's encouraging to read things like this. It reminds me that trials are an unavoidable and at times necessary part of the Christian life, and also to get some perspective on my current and past experiences. Our trials are partially a consequence of living in a fallen world, and may result from circumstances beyond our control. The harsh reality is that we might sometimes also bring them upon ourselves through our own disobedience, or perhaps it might also be caused by others. Most Christians in first world countries don't experience oppression and persecution because of their faith. Nevertheless, it is believed that worldwide, more Christians are being persecuted or killed now than at any other time in history. Regardless, if you're a Christian, and you don't have times of trial, you're definitely in the minority.
Here's what Koinonia House has to say on this subject:
God loves us so much that He literally came to earth, died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day. Searching the world over, there is absolutely no greater love than that. And because God loves us so much, He wants the absolute best for our lives. However, only He knows exactly what that "best" is and only He knows what it will take to implement it in our lives. Consequently, we need to unconditionally trust Him and know that everything He allows into our lives comes only as a result of His Love. In other words, all the circumstances in our life, every single event, occurs only by His loving permission.
There are two major errors we can make regarding trials: The first mistake is the failure to anticipate trials. Jesus suffered trials. Jesus promised us trials (John 16:33). All the apostles suffered trials. Trials are an expected part of the Christian life. And, like all storms, preparation can be critical in successfully enduring them.
A second mistake is to harbor a morbid fear of trials. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Why Do Christians Have Trials?
The Apostle Paul certainly knew sufferings (2 Corinthians 4:7-11, 16-18; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; Hebrews 11:32-40). And he regarded them as opportunities. There are many reasons why we face trials. Here are just a few:
* To glorify God (Daniel 3:16-18, 24-25)
* Discipline for known sin (Hebrews 12:5-11; James 4:17; Romans 14:23; 1 John 1:9)
* To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Peter 4:1-2)
* To keep us from pride. Paul was kept from pride by his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
* To build faith (1 Peter 1:6-7)
* To cause growth (Romans 5:3-5)
* To teach obedience and discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Philippians 4:11-13)
* To equip us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
* To prove the reality of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)
* For testimony to the angels (Job 1:8; Ephesians 3:8-11; 1 Peter 1:12)
When faced with times of trouble remember that God loves you, He knows what is best for you, and He has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Romans 8:35, 38-39