Looking to Jesus When Facing Trials
We will all face trials and difficulties in our lives. The books of Job and Ecclesiastes and the stories in the bible of the lives of the faithful make this abundantly clear. There will be injustices, war, bad government, divorce, disappointment with children, difficulties of growing older, illnesses, tragic accidents, unexpected deaths, unfaithfulness in friends and family, divisions in churches, etc. The devil will try to discourage us to the point of quitting.
Who can help us the most in knowing how to persevere? Obviously, it is Jesus. We can look to him, considering what He had to endure so that we do not become weary and discouraged (Heb. 12:2-3). Think of things he faced: the home folks trying to kill him after His first talk in the synagogue; the unbelief and rejection of his brothers; the confrontations with the Pharisees and chief priests; the unjust criticisms (he was “mad,” demon possessed, a Samaritan); the spiritual immaturity of the apostles and their unbelief even after his resurrection; the betrayal and suicide of a former colleague; and above all these, his trial and death on the cross. How did he survive with his faithfulness intact? How did he keep going and do so with joy?What are some examples from Jesus’ life that help us face our trials?
Jesus loved his Father’s word and prayed to him often. He knew his word when he was tempted and questioned. And it was not simply an academic exercise. He knew his Father’s will so He could please him (John 8:28-29). He stood for the truth. Sadly, he knew that most would not believe and would die in their sins. But this did not move His convictions. For us, little else can shake our world more than when family and friends die outside of Christ. Our relationship with God, strengthened by our communication with him, and our love for his truth will see us through.
Jesus did not hide his emotions. He was grieved and angry over the unbelief of some (Mark 3:5). He threw others out of the temple because they misused His Father’s house (John 2:14-15). He wept over the unbelief of the Jews, knowing the judgment that was to come upon them (Luke 19:41-44). He cried at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). In some of our times of grief and despair, we can find relief in some tears being shed. And there is a time to express some righteous indignation, too. Yes, we have to be careful because we don’t do well making a difference between righteous and personal wrath. But at least, we should speak our concern over matters of unbelief and ungodliness.
Jesus knew who he was and his role. I asked in a sermon a few years ago, “Was Jesus happy?” Afterwards, Ben Shropshire suggested that Jesus was serene and comfortable with who he was. “He was comfortable in his own skin” to borrow the words from a recent commercial. He knew what he could control and what he could not. When we know that we are the Lord’s, what our roles are, and that he is in control, we can find peace and strength to face the tests of our faith.
Jesus was a doer. No matter what, he kept on doing good (Acts 10:38). He was unselfish, constantly thinking of others, even while on the cross. It has been said that “action is the antidote to despair.” When trials have come our way, if we find a way to serve others, we can make it through them.
Jesus was single-minded. He knew very well what the one thing is that is the most needful (Luke 10:41-42). Temporal or worldly concerns meant little if anything to him. I don’t think he thought much about what kind of transportation he had, or the kind of house he lived in. He certainly didn’t worry about where His next meal was coming from or what He was going to wear (how many robes did He have in His closet?), or who was going to be the next “Jerusalem Idol,” or who was in power in Rome. I fear that we become so distracted by this world. If we are not about the business of building up our faith through study, edification in worship, and faithful service, when trials come, we will quit because we will have little if any faith to rely on.
Jesus lived with hope of the joy that was set before Him. (Heb. 12:2) He knew that this world was not his home. So we too must remember that whatever we go through, the suffering of this world is “not worthy to be compared with the glory” we will have in heaven with him (Romans 8:18).
The goal is to continue to be faithful and useful in the Lord’s service, even in the midst of the severest of trials. Let us press onward and upward and may Jesus’ example help us to never ever give up.