There are times of trouble, when these trials are so great – where they seem to come on so fast and furious – and the more they come – they seem more mountainous, that they seem too high to overcome.
We just want to throw in the towel.
Just where is God in all of this? I’m supposed to have this faith – that God will provide … just where the heck is He? This is just getting too much!
There isn’t enough money to pay the bills!
There’s this virus all around us that’s making everyone sick.
My family is having health issues that are scaring me so much, because there aren’t any answers.
We’re working our fingers to the bone, and we’re getting nowhere!
Sound familiar? Of course it does, because everyone has dealt with these issues – some more than others, and some more severe than others – at some point in their lives.
There are those however, where these are piling up so high, that they start to wonder, “I’ve believed, I’ve had faith that God provides, but this is too much – just where are you God? Are you out there? I mean – really out there, or am I being played for a fool?”
People link these situations to the common phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” and compare it to 1 Corinthians 10:13, in which Paul writes,
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
I used to take the word “temptation” literally – meaning to entice to sin, not to test someone to the point where they couldn’t bear the test. I was partially wrong here.
The Greek word used in this verse is πειρασμὸς – peirasmos, which means both to tempt, or to test, depending on the context – or it can mean both.
In this case – yes, it can mean to tempt to sin, but it can also mean to test, in other words, it means both.
If one is saved by the blood of Christ, for instance, then the temptation to sin should never be so great, as there’s always a “way of escape” – and it must be taken. If for example, you’re tempted to commit adultery – that way of escape is to say “No!” – and pray for God to give you the strength to do so.
That way of escape for the nonbeliever, is to surrender to Christ, repent of their sin, and get saved. It’s that simple – there’s no way of escape from sin without true and sincere repentance and surrender to Christ.
If one is saved and is being tested, then God is probably very well trying to teach you something.
If the tests are becoming overbearing, it could be that God’s not reaching you, and is ratcheting up the tests trying to get your attention. Maybe He’s looking for your total surrender, and to get you to stop trying to find the answers under your own power. He wants you to look to God and His Word for the answers you seek.
As for the unbeliever – God’s going to throw the kitchen sink and more at you – and even more, until you DO repent and surrender. He’s definitely trying to get your attention. Not surrendering will result in Him turning you over to your own lusts, your own passions – meaning you’ll sink even lower, at your own peril.
The psalmist wrote about this very subject in Psalm 44.
In the first eight verses, faith in God is declared, but the tests – in this case, the standing of Israel, and how the people are being treated and seen by others, are very much evident.
Finally, the psalmist asks, starting in verse 9 – through 16,
But You have cast us off and put us to shame, And You do not go out with our armies. You make us turn back from the enemy, And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves. You have given us up like sheep intended for food, And have scattered us among the nations. You sell Your people for next to nothing, And are not enriched by selling them.
You make us a reproach to our neighbors, A scorn and a derision to those all around us. You make us a byword among the nations, A shaking of the head among the peoples. My dishonor is continually before me, And the shame of my face has covered me, Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, Because of the enemy and the avenger.
The psalmist is definitely complaining to the Lord, pleading for help, but the psalmist turns it around immediately starting in verse 17,
All this has come upon us; But we have not forgotten You, Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, Nor have our steps departed from Your way; But You have severely broken us in the place of jackals, And covered us with the shadow of death.
The psalmist declares his faith in God – in verse 19, surrenders. You see this in the declaration, “You have severely broken us in the place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.” He was in a real place of despair.
This is called perseverance. It’s what believers must be doing when we find ourselves in a place of despair – we surrender to our Father in Heaven, we look to Him for the answers, instead of trying to deal with it ourselves.
We eat our pride, we get humble – and we do it everyday, not just when we get into a jam. God’s not there for our convenience, He’s there to be worshiped as our creator.
Our perseverance, our waiting on Him, is a form of worship and obedience.
So, why do we get tempted? Why are put in these situations?
This world is a sinful place – and Satan is fighting us at every turn. When we try to do things in our own power, we’re being proud – we can deal with these things ourselves.
1 Peter 5:5-10 says,
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
When you try to deal with your problems yourselves, you’re not relying on God to get you through it, you’re listening to the enemy – Satan, whether you realize it or not.
Let’s take a look at Romans 8, where Paul writes starting in verse 35,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Paul directly references Psalm 44 and specifically verse 11 here.
He asks should anything separate us from the love of Christ? Anything? Absolutely not! No tribulation, no test, no trial – should shake our faith.
Again, referring to Psalm 44, verses 26 through the rest of the chapter tells us why we need to surrender – because God will ratchet up the trials and tests until you do so.
These are tough things to hear – and believe me, these are tough things to preach, but as you know, we’re all going through it these days…some more than others.
But the answer is always the same – surrender.
Surrender, and I mean totally surrender, to the Lord – all of your issues, all of your problems, everything.
If you’re saved – truly saved by the blood of Christ, He will give you that answer – in His timing and in His way. It may not be your answer. It may not be your timing – it could be at the last minute, but the answer will always be the best one.
And if you’re not saved – and regardless of what Oprah or Joel Osteen may have told you, not everyone is a “Child of God” – you are God’s creation, but you may not be His child, or saved by the blood of Christ … if you’re unsure or know that you’re not, now would be the time to get on your knees, repent of your sin, and totally surrender your life to Christ.
You must surrender your problems, whatever they are, and surrender your life – and I mean total surrender, not just for the moment, and most definitely not to just get out of a jam.
God’s not some genie you pull out when you need Him to get you out of some sticky situation, He’s your Heavenly Father, who demands your total surrender and allegiance.
Your faith is a full time job, not some part time hobby. It’s not just “church on Sunday and prayer when you get into something you need to get out of.” Faith is full time – prayer on your knees everyday, fervently worshiping God, praying for others, praising Him for your daily provision, asking for forgiveness of sin, then again, praising God for all that you have, no matter how much or how little.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-13) was written as a blueprint for earnest prayer – not to be recited over and over. God would love to hear your words, but that’s your blueprint, use it.
Being a Christian isn’t easy. Becoming a child of God means that trials, tests and persecutions will come your way. Jesus’ half-brother and Apostle James writes in the very first chapter in his book, verses 2 through 4,
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Verse 2 says that “when” trials come – not “if.”
It also tells us what to do when they come – when our faith is tested, and it will. Faith produces patience – and our patience produces the perfect answer from God.
Looking for our own answers aren’t perfect answers, and working our fingers to the bone to dig ourselves out – just gets us a deeper hole.
Yes, you may need to work to get what you need, but work smarter, guided by the Holy Spirit, and not by your own power.
So, to wrap this up – first, we need to check the status of our salvation. If you can say with absolute confidence that you’re absolutely sure of your salvation – “that you know, that you know, that you know, that you’re sure,” then read on.
If you’re saying, “I think I’m saved, I mean I prayed a little prayer years ago,” check yourself. If you need to think about it, you’re probably not saved. Get on your knees now, repent of your sin, and surrender your life totally to Jesus. I’m not going to give you the words to say – it’s your prayer, not mine. You need to get with Jesus in a heartfelt way, believe on His death for your sin on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection – victorious over the penalty of your sin – and absolutely and mean it.
Next, surrender your life in total to Jesus. Give Him your worship, your daily prayer, your problems, your cares, those who are ill, those who need salvation – anyone or anything. Remember, Godly answers beat anything you can come up with.
Pray everyday, and even more than once a day. My wife and I start each day with deep prayer, but also as occasions arise, we pray throughout the day. You should also.
Get into scripture – you will more than likely find biblical answers right there in Gods Word. Again, we start each day in scripture.
As a minister of the Word, I’m moved many times by the Holy Spirit into scripture at the most odd times. This sermon for instance was started at 3:00 in the morning on a Wednesday. I’m not saying that you need to get up in the wee hours of the morning, but get your day off to a great start by getting into devotions.
If you’re a husband, it’s your duty as the head of the house, to lead your wife, and kids if you have any, into daily devotions as well.
And remember, above all, be consistent. God’s not your personal genie, to be brought out in times of trouble. Make God part of your family, your life. It’s what He wants – and what we should want too.
Make it a Happy New Year – with your improved relationship with Jesus.