Week 11: Overcoming Trials and Tribulations
An upright and wealthy man had
seven sons and three daughters. One day, out of the blue, some of his sons and
daughters were kidnapped. As someone was coming to report this tragedy to the
wealthy man, a fire erupted in the corporate skyscraper the man owned and used
for all his business enterprises. The man watched as a blazing fire burned up
all his most valuable business assets and killed many of his employees. Due to
a technicality, the insurance company would later squirm out from covering the
man’s losses. After the disastrous fire, someone called him up on his cell
phone to tell him that the rest of his children were killed when a sudden
tornado hit the house where a family gathering was taking place. The man is
devastated by this sad turn of events in his life. His wife tells him, “Just
curse God and die!” He refuses. Soon afterward, the man is inflicted with a
skin disease that causes him to break out with puss-filled boils from head to
toe. Later, some “friends” come to comfort the man by telling him to repent
because he is a sinner who is just now being punished by God.
The Bible tells a similar story.
The man who suffered these terrible things was called Job. After Job went
through so many tragedies in such a brief period of time, he said, “My spirit
is broken” (Job 17:1). Having your spirit broken is sort of like dying inside
(Eccl 12:6). The emotional stress and anxiety that comes from human suffering
can easily make us wish for death (1 Kgs 19:4). But as
we go through life, there will be days when the emotional and physical trials
of life seem too much for us to handle.
Everyone’s faith will go through
tests. These tests will come in one form or another. Losing a loved one to
death is a difficult thing to accept. Losing our sense of security because our
finances are a mess and we’re neck-deep in debt is like living in a pressure
cooker. Life won’t always be easy. Tests may come from places where we least
expect it. For example, a brother in church that you have always respected may
say or do something to hurt your feelings. You may be criticized when you try
to serve God. But all these should not defeat us and make us lose faith. Jesus
once said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I
have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). In this lesson,
we shall study how to overcome the trials and tribulations that we encounter in
Some Basic Principles
Don’t Be Surprised.
Sufferings come in many forms.
Disasters. Loss. Persecution. Sicknesses. We as believers are not immune from
the sufferings of this world. In fact, we are destined to suffer, especially
for the sake of our faith (1Thess 3:3; Acts ; Mt 24:9; Jn -20). Therefore, Peter
encouraged the believers who were scattered throughout the world, “Beloved, do
not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some strange thing happened to you” (1Pet ). With such a preparation, we will not be caught off
guard when trials come to us.
Believers Benefit from Suffering.
As fire purifies gold, trials
purify our faith so that our faith, “being much more precious than gold that
perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory
at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pet 1:7). While material comfort often
makes us fall into spiritual slumber, trials discipline us and bring us closer
to the Lord. Through trials, we develop Christ-like characters such as
perseverance, patience, purity, and compassion. Not only so, when we suffer for
the faith, we “partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1Pet ). God allows sufferings for our good. For
those who love God, sufferings always have a good purpose. “For our light
affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor ). In view of the eternal glory
that suffering is achieving for us, our trials become but light and momentary.
Cast Your Cares Upon the Lord.
Cast your burden on the Lord and
as king David sang, “…He shall sustain you” (Ps 55:22). In difficult
situations, we often forget that God is on our side. It’s easy to forget that
God cares for us when we suffer because God is often the very one we blame our
suffering on. Yet, we usually don’t realize how being able to feel pain, both
physical and emotional pain, is actually a blessing. Although God doesn’t like
to see us suffer, he allows suffering so that we may mature spiritually. Even
then, we can always turn to him in our distress and cast on him all our cares
because he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). Not only does he sympathize with us, he
provides us with the strength we need (1Pet ). Realizing how great the Lord’s love is, Paul
claimed victory over trials of all kinds. God, who loves us so much as to give
us his own Son, will be our constant help in trouble. Therefore, no suffering,
however great, can ever separate us from the love of God (Rom -39).
Let Go And Move On.
When we face a difficult
situation, we tend to tense up, get worried, and become depressed. Often, sorrow
and anxiety sap our spirit to carry on. The wise king Solomon once said,
“Banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body…” (Eccl NIV). This verse refers to
both mental and physical trials. In trials, we need to learn how to let go and
move on. We have to learn how to let go and move on because if we don’t our
life, both secular and spiritual, comes to a standstill. A stagnant life, like
a stagnant faith, is weighed down and essentially worthless (Prov ).
Light at the End of the Tunnel.
There’s always a light at the end
of the tunnel for God’s faithful people. Faith and trust in God are the keys to
mending a broken heart (Ps 28:7). He is a steady source of comfort and
strength. The prophet Jeremiah once wrote about God’s heart towards his
suffering people, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of
peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope…And you will seek me and
find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jer
Respond to Discipline.
The first thing to do when
meeting with difficulties in life is to consider what we can learn from the
suffering. Perhaps we have shortcomings that we need to improve on. We may have
drifted far from God without realizing it. Our afflictions may also be due to
our wrongdoings. When we see where we fall short, we should correct ourselves
and ask for forgiveness. Even if we have done no wrong, trials help us grow and
reach spiritual maturity. If we respond to the Lord’s discipline with
gratitude, we will “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:4-13).
Take Your Weakness As Your Strength.
Sometimes trials are physical as
well as emotional. Despite our fervent prayers for healing, God may not always
heal us physically like we’d hope he would. We have to learn to humbly accept
God’s will. We have to learn how to embrace our human weakness before we can
become strong in the Lord. The apostle Paul had a physical ailment he called a
“thorn in his flesh” and a “messenger of Satan to beat me.” Physical
afflictions are a way to beat our self-will down and humble us. We often need
to be physically “beaten” and tried by illness before we can develop humility
and trust in our character. So physical affliction is one of God’s tools to
develop our character and faith—a tool every disciple should be aware of. We
must learn Paul’s lesson. When he prayed for the thorn to be taken away from
him, God didn’t seem to be listening at first. But later Paul would learn that
God had this to tell him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is
made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). It’s a hard
lesson to learn, understand, and accept, but we must learn that it’s only when
we’re weak that God can work through us effectively. When we can finally
embrace our human weakness and rely on God’s strength to overcome our trials
and tribulations, God’s strength becomes our strength.
Seek Others And Don’t Isolate Yourself.
Trials often mean suffering, and,
in suffering, you will often feel as if you’re waging a lonely battle. But
emotional struggles don’t have to be lonesome one-person affairs. The Bible
says, “Two are better than one…And a threefold cord is not quickly broken”
(Eccl 4:9-12). It’s harder for outside circumstances to break your spirit if
you have other peoples’ emotional support to help you through difficult times.
Encourage Others With Good Words and A Cheerful
Unless you have an extremely sad
and difficult life, you won’t always be broken-hearted. One day your broken heart
will heal. At that time, you may even be able to help someone through their
difficulties. It is written, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
but a good word makes it glad” (Prov ). In the same way, a dreary
face can depress, while a cheerful face can uplift (Prov
). Encourage others
with good words and a cheerful face. By doing so, you just may lighten up your
own day in the process.
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
If you become a Christian, you will not
experience suffering for the rest of your life. T/F
Memorize John 16:33 and write it down.
When we face an emotionally difficult time of
suffering or trials, we should not just keep thinking about how bad our life
When we are in suffering, we should isolate
ourselves and try to work things out alone. T/F
When we suffer, it means that God longer cares
about us. T/F.
List at least 3 principles that will help you to
overcome trials and tribulations.
How is it possible that a sorrowful person can
bring himself or herself to cheer up another person?
Why was Paul able to say that nothing could ever
separate him from the love of God? (see Rom 8:28-39)
Go back to 2 Cor 12:9.
What did God tell Paul?
Study Psalm 55:22. Do you have a testimony to
share? Write it down.
was brought to the church by Nancy.
patiently answered her questions when she had doubts. Nancy fasted and prayed for her until she
finally received the Holy Spirit. Nancy
also helped her financially when she was in debt. Barbie was deeply moved by Nancy’s Christian love,
and decided to be baptized. After believing in the Lord, Barbie became a very
fervent sister. She studied the Bible diligently and prayed earnestly. With
such a progress in her faith, she was soon assigned to teach the Elementary
class at church. One day, as she walked down the hallway, she heard two sisters
talking in a room. “Barbie is a good sister, but I don’t think she should
become an RE teacher so soon. I mean, she is still a spiritual baby.” Barbie
stopped and listened. She couldn’t believe her ears. The voice was Nancy’s! She was deeply
hurt. She resigned from her work as RE teacher and stopped coming to church.
“Now I know that all church-goers are hypocrites!” She resented Nancy and vowed never to
see her face again.
What went wrong in Barbie’s faith? If you were Barbie, how should you overcome
this feeling of hurt?
Brian and his family were recently baptized into
the church. They have been fervent believers for many years now. One day,
however, Brian goes in for his medical checkup and discovers that he has
prostate cancer. Brian, who is a father of three children and has a lovely
wife, is emotionally devastated by the shocking news. Brian, who feels the news
is as good as a death sentence, goes through a stage of serious depression. He
begins to blame God for his misfortune and cannot come to accept the reality of
his illness. He decides that he and his whole family will never again step into
a church or worship God anymore. Without any peace in his heart, Brian is prone
to raging around his house. He left his job and often breaks things in his
house. While his wife and children understand why Brian is so upset, they don’t
know how to help him. If you were one of Brian’s close friends at church
before, and Brian’s wife and children come to you for help, what would you do?
your observations of trials you face in your everyday life, make a list that
you can evaluate on a Biblical/spiritual basis. Write down an action that
creates some emotional turmoil in your life. What emotion or emotions does it
evoke? Write a short description how you think you deal with the emotional
turmoil the action causes in your life. An example has been done for you. Don’t
forget to examine the way you deal with the emotion(s) evoked by the action.
My parents scream and yell at me
all the time.
It makes me feel angry and sad at
the same time.
How do I deal with it?
Sometimes, I yell back at them.
Other times, I keep quiet and then take it out on my friends later.