Seven Ways God Uses Tough
Times to Shape Our Lives
By William D. Black
New Life Ministries
- Tribulation tests our identity as Christians Tribulation
tests our identity. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus
described several situations. The seed that landed on rocky places did
not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
When the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because
they had no root. Jesus said that the one who received the seed that
fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives
it with joy. Since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When
trouble or persecution come because of the word, he quickly falls away.
The one who received the seed that fell among thorns is the man who
hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of
wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. The seed that fell on good soil
produced a good crop. By implication, that seed that fell on good soil
stayed connected to the source of its life and was not destroyed by
trouble, persecution, the worries of this life, or the deceitfulness
of wealth. When we deal with tribulation as we should, it authenticates
our true identity as believers.
- Tribulation tests our faith "These [trials] have come
so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes
even though refined by fire may be proved genuine and may result
in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:7).
- Tribulation tests our sense of purpose When I was in
my first year of medical school, I was about one minute late to histology
class two or three times in a row. Our professor approached me in the
laboratory and notified me that my tardiness reflected on my "sense
of purpose." I was never late again, because I realized how it would
reflect on my character. As it says in James, "Blessed is the man who
perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will
receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him"(James
- Tribulation tests our obedience "The reason I wrote
you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything"
(2 Corinthians 2:9).
- We are tested to teach us to rely on God "We do not
want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered
in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our
ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our
hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might
not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered
us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have
set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by
your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious
favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
- We are tested so that it will go well with us "He gave
you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known,
to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you"
- Some people do not pass the test In the New Testament,
there is a Greek word, adokimos, that speaks of people who are
tested but do not pass the test. It is used several times in the New
Testament. I have included selected quotations:
"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached
to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless of course
you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not
failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong"
(2 Corinthians 13:5-7a).
"They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are
detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good" (Titus 1:16).
"But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger
of being cursed. In the end it will be burned" (Hebrews 6:8).
Consider what 1 John 2:19 says about some who left the fellowship: "They
went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had
belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going out
showed that none of them belonged to us."
As I study these concepts, I can only come to one conclusion: Salvation
is a gift from God, but if your life does not show evidence of God working
in it, you likely never received the gift.
Taken from the book Finding
Strength in Weakness by William D. Black, M.D.Used by permission
of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on
men, women and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit www.newlife.com.
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