“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:10-12 (The Message)
When people go through trials, sometimes they will hear things like, “God must be using you for something important to allow you to go through…” or they might hear something else like, “The breakthrough must be right around the corner because Satan sure is stepping up his game to try and keep you from…”
Reading the Bible, both situations occur regularly. Satan does his best to thwart God’s ultimate plan of adding more people to His family through various means. God, also, allows us to go through trials in order to help us become more like Him.
Anyone who lives on the Earth will experience a trial or series of trials in their lifetime. I’ve found for myself, in our latest trial or the latest “section” of our trial, that it really doesn’t matter to me if it’s God growing my maturity or Satan trying to thwart the glory God wants to see achieved…it’s still a trial and it’s still (at times) hard! Focusing on why the trial is occurring doesn’t really help me get to the end result. But there are a few things that can (and do) help me personally when experiencing a trial and I would like to share them with you.
First, asking God what He wants me to learn through this particular trial and then listening to and obeying His voice when He speaks. If He chooses to remain silent for a time period, then believing and trusting in the promises and truths spoken in the Bible to others going through a similar trial or remembering the promises God has spoken over my life in the past until He chooses to speak again. I love that God is a God of few words – He doesn’t talk to hear Himself speak. He talks only when it’s important. And when He talks – stuff happens! The world was created, people were healed, sins were forgiven….yup, when God talks, it’s important, and so I’m choosing to listen up to make sure I don’t miss His voice.
Second, focusing on and believing God’s promises and Truths instead of giving Satan any audience to try and convince me of his lies. When I’m tired or beaten down, that’s when I find myself most vulnerable to Satan’s lies. Arming myself with God’s Truths ahead of time will help most of the time, but knowing there will be days I need extra prayer support and having a plan ahead of time makes a big difference. Asking others to pray for me when I just don’t have the words is a great way to help Satan retreat or to build my maturity in Christ.
Third, praising God through the trial. Focusing on the blessings that He brings along the way (and there are always blessings when we are His children) helps keep the focus where it should be…on God’s truths and that He loves me and is taking care of the issue I’m dealing with, in His way, in His time.
Fourth, reaching out to others with encouragement, love, and empathy as God puts people in my path. I’m not going through this particular journey just so God can show up in my life. No, I’m going through this particular journey so that I can then help someone else through their similar journey. God is a God of family…and as His children, it’s our job to share His love with others.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if my trial is one that God is using to mature me to help me progress to the purpose He has for my life, or if it’s a stumbling block Satan is using to thwart God’s greater plan, to steer me off course so that I don’t fulfill God’s purpose in my life. More than likely, it’s a little of both. God is using it to mature me and get me that much closer to becoming more like Him, and Satan isn’t happy and wants to try and stop me from maturing and becoming someone God can use to further His kingdom. No matter how it started, trials are usually hard. If I focus on the circumstances, I can quickly veer off course. However, I have a choice. I can focus on God’s promises and the fact that even while walking this particular journey, I’m still safely held in His hands, right where He wants me. When I make that choice, I usually reach the end of the trial sooner. I’m not detoured by the circumstances or focused on the “why.” Instead, I’m given a chance for God to get all the glory and me to say, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me a small part in that particular part of Your story.”
© Cheri Swalwell 2015