In the pastoral ministry, pastors see a lot going on in the lives of their congregations. Loved ones pass away into the presence of the Lord, others are seriously ill. God blesses people with wonderful jobs and families, but there can be problems and trials there too. Certainly hardships and trials come to everyone. The way people deal with trials is a matter of faith. Often people react to trials with anger, frustration and upset. That seems to be the default position.
But what does the Bible say about how we are to react to troubles, hardship and bad news? Is there a difference in how genuine believers react to hardship? Over a year ago, I announced from the pulpit that I had been diagnosed with cancer. You could hear an audible gasp from the congregation. But I remained upbeat and told them what the apostle Paul had instructed us. “Rejoice in all things. Again, I say rejoice!” Rejoice about the trial of cancer?
In James 1:2-4 we are told: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Being above and on top of your problems through knowing who you are in Christ is one of the real dynamics of Christian living. Trials are actually so productive for us that we need to face them in the right way in faith. Moving through our trials with confident faith is essential. God is going to use the trial to strengthen you and grow you deeper into relationship with Him. You will, like the apostle Peter, strengthen your brothers and sisters by your example of courageous faith and endurance. And yes, all things truly do work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:28.
During my cancer, I knew God would fulfill His promise to me to that this illness would work for my good. Either I would be cured or God would call me home to Him. Either way is a win-win situation for those who love the Lord. I also felt the prayer support of others as God called me closer and closer to Him in love, deep prayer and deep trust. How much are we to put our deep trust in God? Job said: ““Though He slay me, I will hope in Him, and He knows the way I take: when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” Job 13:15; 23:10.
Moses said “the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.” Deuteronomy 23:5. I am now cancer-free. Others may not attain that. But whatever your problem or issue or the outcome, God turns your trials into abundant and eternal blessings because God really loves you. You can trust in Him.
Roger Holl, D. Min., Ph.D. is the pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. Sunday Worship is at 10:30 am at the Sterling Senior Citizens Center. All ages are welcome. For more information call 907-862-0336.
• By Roger Holl, for the Peninsula Clarion