8 Defences Against Trials of Faith

The Disciples of Jesus had a misconception of Messiah’s work that tainted their view of Him and kept them from understanding he needed to suffer. They thought he would deliver them from every evil and wrong in the time frame and ways they imagined. It is possible, especially in times of trials of our faith, to love Jesus and trust in Jesus (as the Son of God) but not fully understand him or what he’s doing. In these times, we are tempted to deny the Lord like Peter.

Have you ever experienced a trial that shook your faith? Peter did. This was Peter’s being sifted like wheat (Luke 22:31); but, Jesus did not give up on Peter, just like Jesus did not give up on or discourage John the Baptist or Thomas the Disciple (Matthew 11:7-9; Luke 7:24-35; John 20:27). Rather, he encouraged these men and gave them what they needed for the strengthening of their faith. (John 21; ex. Abraham — Romans 4)

Loved ones closest to me have asked me before: “Why can’t it just be easy for once?” The only way I know to respond is: “Because Life itself is one big trial, and we’re not in heaven yet. Trials here test our faith and perseverance (Romans 5:3).”

“In this world [with its fallen ways] you [who are of God and his ways] will have tribulation, but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world” — John 16:33 (brackets mine).

So, as sad as it may be, we need to hear God when he tells us, “Do not think it is an odd thing to have trials of faith” (1 Peter 4:12-19) You can expect trials and persecution if you are heading for and living according to God’s kingdom. (Acts 14:22) But, the mark of genuine Christians is that they can be pressed like grapes on every side; and even though they may falter (Prov. 24:16), they get back up and keep going, not being crushed (2 Cor. 4:8-12).

Randy Alcorn, an author from whom I often gain much encouragement once said, “The believer who cannot address suffering and evil biblically is ill-prepared to represent Christ to a world that desperately needs Him.” I wholeheartedly agree and add that the secret to winning gold in The Christian Race of Life and Faith is NOT to never fall down; the secret is getting back up.”

A good Christian leader will help others get back up or keep going just like he himself has had to do in times of trial! (Luke 22:31; John 21). He will show the same love and grace to others that God has shown to him, and that is real ministry.

In that effort, I present:

8 DEFENCES AGAINST TRIALS OF FAITH — John 20:1-31

 

  1. Go slowly, and be reflective and observant. (vv. 3-8)
    • Tohave a chance to remember God’s words and believe (ex. John).
      • John ran ahead of Peter to the tomb but waited for Peter to make inspection before entering and observing for himself.
      • The passage does not say that Peter believed after observing the tomb. Who knows what was going on in Peter’s mind, but whereas John believed Jesus had risen (remembering Jesus’ words, Luke 18:33), Peter was apparently forlorn and not knowing what to believe (due to his misconceptions of the Messiah).
    •  To reject the panic and fear and rush to find your own solution or believe what things appear to be. (Ex. Mary, vv. 1-3)
  2. Realize that things may not be as they appear. (vv. 1-3)
    •  Mary thought “they” had taken her Lord.
      • Even though you love The Lord and are devoted selflessly to him when others are faltering, it is possible for you to not understand all of what God is doing. (vv. 8-9)
      • Give God and others the benefit of the doubt. Be gracious.
    •  Focus on finding out what God is doing.
  3. Hang in there & Claim Ignorance. There is much we either do not know or don’t recognize/believe yet. (vv. 9-11, 13)
    • Mary “stuck around” when all others were losing their heads and their faith.
    • Ex. Job (spiritual warfare and redemptive suffering) — God’s answer, ch. 41
    • No one can judge another and no one can justify himself before God. (Job)
    • “A Christian can suffer and still be in the perfect will of God.” Greg Laurie
  4.  Know that it is ok to cry to God, and that, Jesus cares. (v. 12-16)
    • “Jesus wept” at the tomb of Lazarus, because God is full of love and compassion and suffers with you. (John 11:35; Is. 63:9)
    • Through her tears, The Lord appeared to Mary and called her by NAME. He will do the same for you.
    • King David often complained in prayer to God in the Psalms. (Psalms of Lament)
  5.  Don’t cling to what you’ve had so tightly that God can’t give you (and others) something better. (V. 17)
    • Mary clings to Jesus
    • Jesus surrenders his will in the Garden (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 12:1-4) — Jesus submitted himself to the human experience of abandonment for our sake. He knows what it feels like to be alone and forsaken and betrayed. But, he did it so you could be united with God and never experience separation from God again.
  6.  Expect a miracle in this life or the next. The timing and way is up to God’s plan. (v. 15-31)
    • Look for Jesus to show up! and to adjust your faith and view of Him and his kingdom!
      • Just as he showed himself to Mary and the disciples, he will “show himself” to you
    • Only Jesus has an EMPTY TOMB!
    • Believe He is the Risen Redeemer, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the sin/evil of the world and turns it into Good. (Ex. Joseph, Gen. 50:20)
      •  “All things work together for good.” Romans 8 — God, the Redeemer from all evils, Gen 48:16)
      • 2. This is why we Christians can count trials as “all joy,” because we get to see God’s magic of redeeming evil into good at work in our very own lives. (James 1)
  7. Share/Receive Christ’s Message (vv. 17-19, 21-23)
    • “My Father and Your Father” = deepened relationship (Phil. 3, Abraham and Isaac–Gen. 22; Romans 4): knowing God
      • Power of his resurrection
      • Fellowship of his sufferings — What good is suffering for the believer? By it, we gain empathetic friendship with God. We can’t possibly know how redemptive that is.
    • Tell your brothers and sisters and the world what God has done/will do!
    • Listen to those who love The Lord, have been through trials and still hear from God regularly.
      • Mary Magdalene was a woman who had been demon possessed, yet she is God’s messenger
      • John believed when he saw the empty tomb; John was the beloved disciple
    • Comfort others with the comfort you have received (2 Cor. 1:1-10)
      • “Weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15) – Show me the brokenhearted so I may weep with them; show me thesuffering whom I may embrace. This is the heart of Christ!
      • Say, “I am with you in this,” and just sit with them in silence. Maybe tend their needs.
      • Hang out with believers. The disciples were all together to hear the news (v. 19-20)
        • Want to be my friend? Then, talk to me about the things you’ve suffered, about what you doubt though you know you’re not supposed to… and then we’ll know each other.
  8.  Start/Keep on believing & worshipping Jesus as the Son of God (vv. 30-31)
    • Because He is good and his mercy endures forever! He is the everlasting good that we seek!
    • Because he alone is the Son of God, just as John, the eyewitness of Jesus, records for us in John 21:1-31
    • Because Jesus gave doubting Thomas and the disciples what they needed in order to believe. (vv. 20, 24-28) “Stop doubting, and be a believer!” — Jesus

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” — Jesus

……………………………….

OTHER RESOURCES:

Befitting Rewards (Series)

If God is Good, Why do Evil and Suffering Exist? by Scott Yungren via Ratio Christi

If God is so ___, then why ___?

Lord, I Trust You by Greg Laurie

NOOMA Matthew | 012 Trailer from flannelstaff on GodTube.

The Problem of Evil and Suffering by The Veritas Forum via Truth Bomb

Why Doesn’t God Stop Suffering? by ConversantLife.com

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