When Tested and Tried

Within recent weeks, I have spent time seeking to sensitize you to the fact that misunderstanding, persecution, and the like will touch us at some time or the other. Therefore, it is important that we be aware, and anticipate these things, so that when they come we will not be surprised.
Biblical Basis for Trial
You are well acquainted with Paul’s well-quoted passage to Timothy: “All who will live godly will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). In the Old Testament, Job said, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). Additionally, Ellen White penned, “Troublous times are before us. In many instances, friends will become alienated. Without cause, men will become our enemies. The motives of the people of God will be misinterpreted, not only by the world, but by their own brethren” (The Upward Look, p. 177).

What Should Be Our Response

Jesus teaches from His example total dependence upon God when misunderstood, falsely accused, or ridiculed. In fact, He radically teaches that His servants must do four things according to Matthew 5:44: “love your enemies;” “bless those who curse you;” “do good to those who hate you;” “pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Admittedly, to “love,” “bless,” “do good,” and “pray for” persons who hurt and malign you is hard to almost impossible to do of and by oneself, but through total dependence upon Christ, it is possible.

High Road Approach

Followers of Christ take this high road approach though still vulnerable to further misunderstanding and ridicule. They, nevertheless, practice the four ways of Christ, fully mindful that Christ will vindicate them when He deems best. In fact, they learn not to focus on vindication but on faithfulness to God. They also overcome the opinion of others, as manifested by the friends of Job. When he was severely tested, they felt that there was some hidden sin; for a child of God will not be allowed to suffer, especially as did Job.

Pray for Strength and Faithfulness
Given the example of Job, experience has taught me to look at a situation through the eyes of God, so to speak, meaning that I try to understand or see God in the process of testing. By that I understand that not every suffering is the result of wrong doing, but sometimes God allows His people to experience opportunities that may drive them to trust Him more and grow spiritually. Accordingly, I am reluctant when I visit one under severe testing to pray for the removal of the trial. Instead, I pray for strength that the individual may prove faithful in going through his/her crucible, as he/she will come out as pure gold.

Pray for Spiritual Understanding
However, it is most comforting and reassuring knowing that God is with one as he/she faces his/her crucibles. It provides strength and a positive outlook as seen in the example of Habakkuk who, too, was greatly tested as recorded in the Old Testament book that bears his name. He wrote in chapter 3:17-18: “Though the fig tree may not blossom . . . and the fields yield no food . . . . and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” Only one who is totally surrendered to Christ can speak so joyfully in adversity; and friend, we will never experience this unless the crutch of comfort is removed, and God tests you.