A few weeks ago, I mentioned in my newsletter that I am struggling in the midst of a few different trials at the moment and how I have been seeing how many of you are also struggling in trials. I asked you to step up and get to know ONE more person and invest in their life…to help carry the burden of their trials.
My email inbox was literally FLOODED with responses of you guys saying you would step up and a lot of you asked for prayers for the trials you’re in.
I don’t know if it’s just a busy season for Satan to go around attacking Christians, or that it’s always been there, and God is just really opening my eyes, but every day, I see more and more and more hurt and pain.
My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering…everyone struggling in a trial. And I felt that it might be great to have a post to encourage those going through trials, and something that I can refer back to myself, so that I do not forget.
Here’s how to make it through a huge trial and come out victoriously (everything I’ve learned in my own current trials)…
How to Make It Through a Huge Trial
Keep Your Focus on Christ
One of the things that we all often do during a trial or persecution is to focus on what’s happening. It could be focusing on what’s happening around us, to those we love, or to ourselves. But, at that moment, it reminds me of Peter when he was walking on water. He was doing just fine, defying the impossible, walking on water, and then he took his eyes off Christ and started to sink.
This freaked him out even more and if you’ve ever been in a drowning situation like I have, you’ll know that the second you go into fear mode, you start to panic, thus making the drowning situation WORSE. In your natural human tendency toward life, you start to struggle against the water when being calm and relaxed in a drowning situation is actually much, much better.
I imagine Peter flailing around in the water, struggling against it, having taken his eyes off Christ, and Christ being somewhat disappointed in Peter for having a lack of faith in Him. Jesus outstretched His hand and saved him FROM HIMSELF.
Many people look at that story and can clearly see that…they see, “Oh, okay, Peter started sinking. He lacked faith.” But my question to you is, at what point did Peter fail? Was it when he started thrashing his arms in the water sinking, or was it the SECOND he STARTED TO DOUBT?! I think it was when he started to doubt.
If faith as small a mustard seed can move a mountain, how much more can a mustard seed of doubt? That, my dear friends, was the point in which he sinned. He doubted.
In the midst of one of my current trials, God was convicting me that my greatest sin was doubt. He brought me to the verse about how we should resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). And it struck me like a lightning bolt, I was ALLOWING Satan to tempt me. I was ALLOWING him to plant doubt in my mind.
Think about the same situation in the Garden of Eden. When did Eve first sin? When she bit the apple or when she entertained the devil?
When she even listened to what he was saying….when she doubted. Satan said, “Did God really say that….?”
In that moment, it was her doubt that did her in. Once she doubted, she gave the platform to Satan to tempt her to sin. So the way to fight Satan is to not doubt God (as Barney from The Andy Griffith Show would say…”Nip it…Nip it in the bud.”) Resist Satan’s sly little performance to get you to doubt.
He will literally flee, meaning run like the wind AWAY from you when you resist him, when you don’t give way to your doubts, when you do not listen to him, when you hold fast to the Truth of God’s Word.
The battle, friends, is in the mind. That’s where so many sins start. Keep your focus on Christ. Keep it on your future. Keep it anchored in the Word.
Know That It Might Not Be Your Fault
Of course we are ALWAYS to be examining ourselves and seeing if there’s anything we can learn in a trial (as there’s always something to be learned from a trial), but sometimes, it won’t be your fault a trial happens. There is evil all around us and things happen. It doesn’t always mean it’s a reflection of our own sin.
A good example is one of the trials I’m in now. Someone has called me a liar. They are saying that what I’m saying is not true. I’ve provided in-writing proof to show I’m not lying and they still do not believe, still attacking me publicly, hoping anyone who will listen to them will hate me too. Still persecuting me, accusing me falsely. And I have to say it’s difficult.
I live my life in such a way that I am very well-known for NOT lying. A few months ago, in a personal situation where all I would have had to do was tell one small fib and no one would have ever even known about it but me and God, I chose not to. Knowing full well, it would cost me over $600 if I didn’t “fib.” Listen, my word is worth $600 to date! Not that I am perfect, but that I try REALLY hard to always be 100% transparent, genuine, and honest. Do I contradict myself, sure, I’m learning as I go and I love to learn, so what is true yesterday, may not be true for me today. But, my heart is right.
And yet they accuse me, through absolutely no fault of my own. Meaning, I was just minding my own business when they accused me and started attacking me.
Here’s the thing…did I cause it? No. I did nothing to them. I did nothing to cause it. I’m blameless in that area and God knows that. Prayfully, anyone that knows me, knows that.
It’s not always our fault. We can’t always control what happens, which leads me to the next thing you should know…
You Can’t Control It
I was watching a special retreat on video some years ago. The Pastor had a table next to him. On the table were two bottles. One bottle was soda. The other bottle was water. He took the bottle of soda in his hand and said (paraphrasing here)…
You know…life is pretty hard. “Your DARN RIGHT,” I yelled at the TV. It has it’s ups, he continued as he lifted the bottle of soda up to the sky, and downs (and dropped it down quickly shaking the bottle), and all around (shaking the bottle more and flying it like an airplane). Life gets messy (and he opens the bottle on himself and of course, it spews everywhere and gets him all messy) and we are in desperate need of a Savior.
He puts the soda bottle down, and takes the water bottle in his hands now, and continues.
There are so many pressures of life (he squeezes the water bottle), so much stress (squeezes it again a lot) and sometimes it can feel like a roller coaster (shaking the bottle wildly all over the place), and we are in desperate need of a Savior to wash all our muck and mess away (he opens the water bottle, it does NOT spew everywhere and he drips it on himself to wash away the soda mess).
He asks the audience, “What did you learn from this presentation?”
A few people stood up and said something like, we need a Savior to wash away our sins.
He said great. What else?
No one knew.
He confidently asked again, Is there anything else you learned from this presentation? The room was very silent.
He asked, “What happened to the soda bottle?” Someone said, “Life.” And, he said, “What happened to the water bottle?” Again, the same person said “Life.” Then, he asked them the most profound question I’ve heard in a sermon to date, in my life, “If ‘life,’ as you call it happened to both the soda bottle and the water bottle, why then, did one get me all messy and dirty and one got me clean?”
And there went the bricks…right on top of my head!
He went on, You see if life is the same for everyone, and it is, we all have issues to deal with, and we do, then why did the soda explode, but the water didn’t?
Let me put it plainly, he said. It wasn’t the plastic bottle, that was the same, on the outside a sinner and a saint could look the same. It wasn’t “life” as that looks the same too (the rain falls on the just and the unjust the Bible says), no, it was the contents of the bottle. It was what’s inside a man.
If you give the same situation to a redeemed Christian that you do to an unsaved man, you will get two different results. Soda is very different than water. It’s all about what’s inside. A Christian has God inside. An unsaved man does not.
And here’s the famous quote…can you guess it?
Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
What we fill our hearts with, our minds, our souls…THAT is what comes out of us. We fill that bottle with soda, we get an explosion. We fill that bottle with water, we don’t get an explosion. It’s as simple as that!
That, my friends, is a sermon I will never forget! It is one that had such a profound impact on my life as a Christian. All the sudden, like 12 tons of bricks falling on top of my head.
I realized that I wasn’t unique in my suffering. That people all over the world suffer every. single. day and it’s ALL ABOUT what I put in my bottle. Am I filling it with soda (the world) or water (God’s Word)? The world or the Word…what is YOUR bottle filled with?
God is With You
You know, I say this whispering to you, because I really don’t want to admit it at all, but I kind of like being in a trial. Not that I love the pain and torture I feel, but that, when I am in the midst of a trial that was not brought on by my own sin, I am all the more closer to Christ. All day long, I’m talking to Him…I’m praying. I’m reading my Bible MORE, I’m seeking out His Word and His will MORE. I’m more aware of His presence. It’s like He’s there, hugging me, comforting me, telling me that everything is going to be okay. He’s got this.
I am never more closer to Christ than in the midst of a trial I didn’t create. And what the out flowing of my heart is, is encouragement and motivation for all of you. So, in a way, when I’m in a trial or being persecuted for something that is not my fault, I kind of like it. Because I get to be all the more closer to my Lord and Savior. I get to SEE His hand like others don’t get the opportunity to see.
In one of the particular trials I’m in right now, every. single. day. I have seen God’s hand and Him moving me, leading me, convicting me in some way or another. In fact, something happened while I was somewhere where Sarah would have acted a completely different and humanistic way (okay, I admit, meanly), but I didn’t! It was like the Holy Spirit took over and I acted loving. I acted like a Christian. I acted, not how I FELT, but in light of WHO I AM in Christ. God did that. It was Him working through me to control me and act how I’m supposed to act. It’s those moments in my life that I remember. When the Holy Spirit sort of takes over my actions. And it’s proof I’m saved and that He’s living inside of me…
It Proves You’re REALLY Saved
In a world where 80% of the world claims they are Christian and you just don’t see it AT…ALL…the ones that are REALLY Christian stand out. We prove our faith is real because we endure the trial.
Think of it like this…
Let’s say, you live in a city where if you say you’re Christian in public, you are immediately shot to death and killed. Would you still call yourself a Christian? It sure would weed out a lot of the fakes from the genuine Christians, don’t ya think?!
That is our life. When we endure a hardship, when the world sees that we couldn’t get through what we got through WITHOUT Christ, they know we are truly who we say we are.
I get SOOOOO many emails from people all over the world asking me how in the world could I ever have gotten through what I’ve gone through in my life. And it provides a wonderful opportunity of me just mentioning the word God to them. Because I KNOW that I COULDN’T have gotten through ANY of that WITHOUT Christ!!!
Not one bit of it. And what I’m going through now in one of the trials I’m dealing with, is the exact same. It’s too difficult for Sarah.
Sarah would have crumbled by now.
Sarah would have quit, given up, stopped going to church, ran to her little cave and hid out forever.
But, the God that is inside of me, MAKES me stronger. So that people see I am strong, I’m writing this post (!!!!), I’m encouraging others, I’m not stopping going to church, I’m not running, I’m not hiding, I’m not crumbling. I’m right here. I may not be as strong as I want to be, seriously, this is hard stuff (!!!), but I’m here. I’m standing for my faith, and I’m giving absolutely EVERYTHING over to God, resting that HE WILL work it all out according to His good pleasure, and for the good of me and all involved. Job 42:2 has become one of those verses that I have literally just been clinging to like crazy.
Going through one of the trials I’m in now, is showing everyone who’s watching (and there are several, believe me) that I’m REALLY saved. That I’m REALLY who I say I am. That Christ lives within me. Because if He didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to even write you this post right now!
The trial is just a season…it’s momentary as Paul calls it…”momentary light affliction.” Ecclesiastes 3 is a great passage to read and know that whatever you’re dealing with, is just a season. Yes, it may be the most extremely painful thing you’ve ever dealt with in your whole life. It may be completely gut-wrenching, wroughting you to your very soul, it may feel like you’re being tortured, but it’s only TEMPORARY. The Bible says…this too shall pass.
Going back to Paul’s words of being momentary light affliction, he’s not saying that it’s nothing in that it’s not a big deal. But, he’s comparing it to the weight of Heaven and all it’s glory. If you were to compare 6 months of the most anguish-ridden torture for Christ’s sake and put it on the scales against FOREVER with Christ in Heaven, there’s no comparison. Heaven FAR outweighs any trials or persecution we suffer through here on Earth.
And it’s not something we shouldn’t expect. Jesus Christ Himself, being perfect, was crucified, tortured and they tried to kill him several times…and listen, He was perfect. We are NOT perfect, so we have to expect that persecution will come. If you’re a Christian, you are a follower of Christ, and if they persecuted Him, they will persecute us who remind them of Him!
It’s all part of the territory, the territory that we will all one day co-own with Christ, may I remind you! Listen, in the end, we win. It’s like watching a movie and knowing the ending before you watch it. It makes the beginning and middle of the movie a lot more bearable to watch, knowing the good guy wins in the end….and He does!
Friends, root your faith in that. God wins in the end, and you are on His team!
Be Thankful in the Midst of Persecution
If you haven’t read my post on how to instantly transform your prayer life, it’s definitely a post you don’t want to miss. You can read it here. It talks about when I first started keeping a prayer journal, I realized just how selfish my prayers really were. It was all prayers asking God for things and barely any thankfulness. Through that, over time, I learned to be more thankful. I disciplined myself to look for the positive in every situation– just call me Pollyanna 🙂 which is why it’s one of my favorite movies. She’s always looking for something to be glad about in EVERY situation. And she spreads her cheer to even the most cantankerous of people.
That’s how I want to be.
I want to be known for spreading cheer and love to every one I meet. In order to do that, I really had to break the negative cycle I was in. I had to start looking at every situation as if there’s SOMEthing to be thankful for. And I can tell you that even in the midst of the hardest trials, I can always come up with at least 1 thing to be grateful for. In fact, one of the trials I’m in now, I’ve counted more than 20+ things I’ve learned and can be thankful for thus far! TWENTY different things to be thankful for and this comes in the midst of one of the hardest trials I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life!
Surely, if I can find 20+ things to be thankful for in one of the hardest trials, you can come up with at least ONE thing in the midst of your trial, but just in case you need a little prompting, here are a few of the ones that I can share publicly…
It made me a much more humble person. I genuinely learned humility through this trial! The hard way, let me assure you! But it’s something that I realize that I really needed to learn!
God is teaching me to hold my tongue. This will be a very long term thing to learn, but it all started in this very trial.
A couple other people in the trial have been humbled as well. Their humility is a blessing to me to see.
I learned that I have a great prayer life…better than I ever realized.
I learned that because I walk so closely with the Lord, He leads me more, as I am able to discern better than I used to.
I can be thankful that when push comes to shove and someone yells at me to tell them the truth out of frustration, I can have boldness and unwaivering strength to tell them…”I already did.” I learned to stand firm in yet another trial, with my feet planted on solid ground, even when situations look impossible and nothing makes any sense.
I’ve learned to give up EVERYTHING in my life, yet again…it’s all God’s, including my character, other people, my reputation, family, money, everything.
I’ve learned to have more faith. My faith has GREATLY been strengthened because I now see God’s hand every. single. day. working in the situation.
I’m thankful because I’ve learned to look at things more through God’s eyes than my own. When things look impossible, they may be to us, but not to God.
I’ve learned that there are a lot more people out there that are going through a hard trial than I ever imagined before.
I’m thankful that God is using me to encourage and motivate others going through a difficult time in their life. That He can use me to help carry their burdens and just be a friend who listens.
I’m learning how to be more patient and wait…not happy about that one. I HATE this lesson personally! But I guess I can be thankful that God is teaching it to me. Bleck! 😉
I’ve learned to take more risks, even when it doesn’t turn out like you hope it will. There’s bravery in taking a risk you truly believe in.
I can be thankful that I know what God is doing….when many people doubt me, I know…
I’m thankful for God’s protection of me and to be able to see His hand all the more clearly in this trial.
I’ve learned that I’m not weird. That just because I pray about everything and seek God’s will for just about everything I do in my life, doesn’t make me crazy or weird. That there are others out there, that do the same thing, and just knowing that, makes me feel better.
I can be thankful that life is has hard times because it just makes me long for and want Heaven more!
I’ve learned that I don’t have to sacrifice my Christianity to one day be married again, that a relationship can actually strengthen my relationship with Christ.
I’m thankful in that I learned to be all the more picky in who I chose to spend my time with, including friends.
I’ve learned that God is always right and I need to just save my breath and not try to argue with Him when I don’t want to do something He wants me to.
I’m thankful because I learned that it’s okay to be me. I don’t have to be anyone else. I don’t have to change who I am inside because very few people really “get” me. I’ve learned that God can use me, just how I am, weird quirks and all. That I don’t need to be someone else to be used by Him. Obviously, it’s my highest purpose to become a more godly woman, but that, I don’t have to change my PERSONALITY…the part of me that makes me ME.
I’m thankful that I’m not as shy as I used to be. That I’m not running away and hiding, but that I’ve come out of my shell more (always a constant battle for me) and am really trying to be who God wants me to be in person.
Use it as a Time to Love On Others
Whenever I’m in a huge trial, you always know. Because it’s usually a time when I am found to be THE most encouraging to others. If you look at my posts 6 months ago, compared to what they are today, many of them now are inspirational. It’s because I’m literally saturating myself with the Word of God, my ONLY hope, and my blog and newsletter, even Facebook posts, it’s all an extension of ME, who I am, so it naturally pours out.
In a way, you can use your trials to do the same. USE IT to help those around you. When you are in a trial, man…you can just really connect with others going through a similar trial and INSTANTLY, you’ve formed this bond with them that is not easily broken! Because all the sudden, you understand them and they understand you. You connect. And you can bounce off each other and encourage one another. If they are having a bad day, be an encouragement to them on your positive days. On your down days, let them comfort you.
When you see what others are dealing with, sometimes what you’re dealing with, doesn’t really seem all that bad. Life-crashing-down, mountains-moving, rock-shattering-world stuff to you, one day, will seem like small buckets compared to the tough times and pain that others are dealing with in comparison. Suddenly, you get out of your own world, open it up, and see the pain of others and realize that you might not have it as bad as you previously thought. I’m in NO WAY making light of your situation at ALL, just that this is what I’ve personally found to be true in my own trials.