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  • We all have them.  Some more than others.  James tells us to count them all joy (1:2), but it’s easier said than done.

    The book of Job offers wisdom for trusting God in times of distress.  When Job emerged from his test of faith, he told God, I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes (Job 42:5 NLT).  Job’s trouble transformed his knowledge of God from “crumbs of rumors” (42:5 MSG) to feasts of faith. 

    Here are three reminders to help us grow spiritually during trial seasons:

    1. God’s plan is bigger than we think.

    God is orchestrating the affairs of this world in ways far beyond our comprehension. Job was unaware of his role in God’s plan to remind Satan that he is a defeated foe.  Satan thought Job only served God for the benefits. He claimed that if God removed the blessings and protection from Job, he would reject God.  Satan didn’t understand Job’s motive, but God did.  God knew Job would stand under pressure. How? Because Job was so convinced of God’s unfailing love (10:12) that he would trust Him even when he lost everything (13:15; Read also Habakkuk 3:17-18).

    To feast on faith, we must settle two issues: God orders the steps of our life (Psalm 37:23), and His love will never abandon us (Romans 8:31-39). If God allows it, He will handle it. Our present circumstances have not changed the nature of God (Hebrews 13:8). He is always worthy of our devotion!

    2. God’s focus is on developing our character.

    God is committed to the process of shaping us into “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master” (2 Timothy 2:21 NKJV).  Job had a flaw in his character that God was working to correct.  Job 32:1-2 says, “he was righteous in his own eyes” and “he justified himself rather than God.” Job filled several chapters with emotional outbursts of self-pity. When he stopped long enough to hear God speak, he developed a deeper understanding of how great God is and how insignificant he was (42:6).

    God doesn’t want our conditional trust, He wants us to die to ourselves.  Paul said, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

    God will also use disappointment with people to shape our souls and cause us to find our fulfillment only in Him. Job was hurt by his friends who misrepresented God while dispensing theological advice.  When Job prayed for his friends as God commanded, he was restored.  Repentance and forgiveness released blessings.

    To feast on faith, we must surrender to the process of becoming like Jesus. Instead of asking, “Why, Lord?” learn to ask, “What now, Lord?”  God “will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV).

    3. God’s viewpoint is eternal.

    When Job was at his lowest point; when nothing seemed secure, he held on to one truth. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25 ESV).

    God sees everything from the perspective of eternity. We may not know what is required to accomplish God’s eternal purpose, but we can know that God is with us in our affliction (Isaiah 43:2) and working for our good (Romans 8:28-29).

    To feast on faith, we must understand God is preparing us for eternity with Him (2 Corinthians 4:17, Revelation 21:4). The Apostle Peter encouraged us to look forward with joy. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:12-13 ESV).

    Reposted with permission from Reflections Magazine.

    “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21, English Standard Version).

    I think it is safe to say none of us will escape experiencing tough times at some point in life. John 16:33 tells us, “In the world you will have tribulation” (NKJV). It’s not if, but when. Considering this, it seems logical that our biggest test of faith comes when we face a serious trial. But let me ask a question. When do we pray most relentlessly—during the good times or the bad times? The situation may test our faith, but we come out on the other side reaffirming we have a powerful God who loves us without measure.

    The Test of Success

    While it may seem counter to logical thinking, is it possible that our greatest test comes during the “good times” when life flows smoothly and people speak well of us? At such times, it is easy to think life is good because we did so well. We pat ourselves on the back and smile about what we have accomplished. Watch out! We are getting into dangerous territory.

    Have you ever stumbled and fallen? I have, and it’s humiliating. I merrily walking along, taking no thought about my steps. My mind is caught up in the day’s plans, then oops . . . down I go. I missed seeing that hole or rock in my way. “Good times,” what we often call success, can lead to pride. And pride can quickly lead to our downfall. We aren’t watching our step. We are too caught up in our success to see it can trip us. Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    The more “we” thoughts we entertain, the less we recognize our blessings really come from the Lord. When life is good, we spend less time on our face seeking God’s guidance and help.  We don’t need His help—or at least we don’t think so.

    The Refining Process

    All of us enjoy the times things go smoothly much more than the times of testing and trouble. Yet, God uses those difficult times to test our faith, our obedience, and our dependence on Him. It is His refining process. I’m not saying we should never enjoy the good times, the happy times in life. I am saying we must keep God at the center of it all. Enjoy the blessings but give God the credit He deserves. He deserves the praise, not us.

    “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, CSV).

    Prayer: Lord, help me to be equally thankful for the good times and the bad. You are using both to shape me into Your image. Keep me from pride and thoughts of what I have accomplished. Every blessing, every success, that comes my way is from You. Only You!


    Life Reference: Mark 6:41-44, Matthew 14:19-21

    Focus Verse:

    And straightway He constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people. (Mark 6:45)

    I find it interesting that Jesus sent the disciples on vacation (or so it looks like) while He took care of crowd control. If we look in the preceding verses, we find that the disciples had just finished the busy task of dispersing food to the hungry crowd of over 5,000 men plus women and children.

    Notice the verse states Jesus constrained them. Constrained means He compelled them; it was necessary…Jesus realized the need to get away once in a while.

    Life Reflection:

    There will always be someone to minister to; someone who needs your attention or needs something from you. What plans can you make to take time to get away and recharge your battery so that you can more effectively minister?

    And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)

    Even Jesus took time to get away to pray and regain strength both spiritually and physically. Notice He took time to get away from everyone around, even His disciples. He exampled the need of getting into your prayer closet alone.

    And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. (Mark 6:47).

    It was growing late when they reached the middle of the sea. Meanwhile, Jesus was alone in the mountain praying. From this place of prayer, He could see the disciples and the storm they were encountering out on the sea.

    Life Reflection:

    No matter what you face in life, Jesus is always watching over you. He sees you where you are and knows exactly what you’re going through.  How does this change your perspective today?

    And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. (Mark 6:48)

    The 4th watch is thought to be around 3am in the morn… it is thought that they started out around 6pm. What should have been a few hours trip had taken them 9 hours just to get halfway across.

    Jesus is watching from the mountain and sees them fighting against the storm that is buffeting them. They are trying to get out of the storm on their own…by their own strength and power….yet they are not making much progress, if any.

    Life Reflection:

    How many times do we do that when we encounter trials and situations? We try to figure out how WE can fix it…what WE can do to change or make things better rather than calling on JESUS and asking for His help.

    None of the Gospels record the disciples praying for help although I’m sure by now they were to the place they definitely were. Remember, Jesus had His eyes on them the whole time….He could see exactly what they were going through. And now He decided it was time to step into the situation….so here comes Jesus walking on the water with waves rising and crashing around Him and the winds trying to buffet Him. Yet the elements could not harm Him for He was its Creator robed in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).

    To Mark, it looks like Jesus is ready to walk right on past leaving them to fight and struggle on their own until they cried out in fear. While Matthew records Jesus as coming directly to them. Matthew realized Jesus would not pass them by. He was confident Jesus would never leave or forsake them (Matthew 14:25-26).

    Jesus would NOT pass them by! And He will not pass us by either when we’re in the midst of a trial. He’s watching from a distance, allowing us to go through things so we can grow stronger in our faith and walk with Him. Eventually, He will say enough is enough and come walking on the waters (situations) that are threatening to drown us.

    Life Reflection:

    We do not know His purpose or His plans for our lives.  So, until we see and understand, we need to rest in the assurance that He is our Loving Father and He’s looking out for us. If He cares for the grass and the birds in the field, how much more do you think He cares for you?

    Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

    Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31)

    But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

    When storms arise, some may question whether they are in the will of God or not. After all, if Jesus really said it, if this is really the will of God, then we shouldn’t be going through all this hardship, right? Wrong!

    That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 1:7)

    God allows us to go through trials so that He may receive glory out of it. People watch how you react and handle situations.

    Life Reflection:

    Are you becoming BITTER or are you becoming BETTER? Do you have a VICTIM or a VICTOR mentality? Are you submitted, praying “not my will but Thine be done”, or are those merely words while you are fighting against the storms and trying to do things your own way without considering God’s?

    But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
    For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. (Mark 6:49-50)

    Sometimes we get so wrapped up and focused on our problem that we are not spiritually discerning. We feel God has forsaken us and we are all alone with waves crashing around us ready to overtake us. We don’t recognize that Jesus has just stepped on the scene… all we see is the trouble surrounding us.

    The disciples were still unsure it was Him even after He spoke to them. Peter had to put forth a fleece to confirm that it really was Jesus! (Matthew 14:28-31)

    And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.

    And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.  (Matthew 14:28-31)

    The winds didn’t cease immediately when Jesus stepped on the scene, but they did once He stepped into their boat. God allows us to go through trials to strengthen us, to teach us things, and to build our faith so that we can learn to trust Him more.

    How is it that the disciples could so quickly forget the mighty miracles Jesus had performed? Things that were not humanly possible yet they had witnessed it with their own eyes? Just a few hours prior they had watched in amazement as Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. They had gathered up all the extra after everyone was filled…12 baskets FULL. It didn’t seem logical or possible, yet, with God all things are possible.

    For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.  (Mark 6:51-52)

    It was easy to believe then. That was the tingly, feel good service where everyone’s shouting and receiving blessings with joy. But as soon as they left the church service, the storm arose and their faith is gone….they were not understanding that Jesus is still God whether it’s in the good times or the bad.

    Life Response:

    He’s with us when we are blessed and He’s with us when were distressed. He’s still God and NOTHING can separate us from Him! (Romans 8:38-39)

    So, whether you’re witnessing the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fish or you are struggling out of the tumultuous sea of trials, remember Jesus IS watching over you and He is with you! He loves you very much!

    And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. (Mark 6:53)

    You will come through whatever trial you’re going through and safely reach the shore. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and place your trust in Him. He won’t pass you by!