Driving one night, I noticed how the moon was unusually bright and round. Admiring its beauty, I was reminded how God is always there with me, even though His Presence is sometimes shadowed by the dark clouds of trials and challenges. It felt like He was not there though He was always there. And how majestic the moon looked that dark night, where leaves glistened under its soft light.
The climate of this country feels uncertain. And recently, many of my friends are undergoing many personal uncertainties in their life as well such as job transitions, business failures, and marriage breakdowns.
Needless to say, I also have my own personal struggles. And the feeling that came over me was fear…
But as I prayed to God, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start reading the book of Romans, which personally spoke to me about trials and challenges.
In uncertainties, God is my certainty.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:15-17 NLT)
In times of uncertainties, an important question to ask ourselves is: Who are we to God?
We are the children of God. We are heirs of His Glory! But to share in His glory, we must also share in His suffering. As followers in Christ, Jesus already said to us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV)
Apostle Peter also said in his letter, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed… if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:12-13;16 NIV)
Although the Bible tells us that we will undergo trials and challenges, we will be victors instead of victims! In fact, Apostle Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV)
This brings me to a question, “What kind of sufferings did Paul go through?” We can find the answer in his letter to the Corinthians.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Cor 11:24-29 NIV)
Compared to what Paul went through, my suffering pales much more to him. The only thing I could attempt to relate is my lack of sleep!
Yet, in all his feeling of weakness, how did Paul respond to it? He continued saying, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Cor 11:30 NIV)
Paul continued explaining yet another suffering of a physical ailment, which he pleaded God to take it away. But God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesses.” (2 Cor 12:9a NIV)
And responding to God’s answer, Paul said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest one me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9b-10 NIV)
Wow! What words of revelation. When I am weak, then I am strong in Christ. God’s strength is shown through my weaknesses. Hence, my trials and challenges are here to show me not only who I am in God, but also who God is in my life!
While we may feel alone in facing our trials and challenges, Paul went on saying that he was not alone because the Spirit of God is actually continually interceding for him. (Romans 8:26) Likewise, the Spirit of God is also continually interceding for us.
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches heart knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26 ESV)
Hence, in spite of his trials and challenges, Paul went on saying, “if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding of us.” (Romans 8:31-34)
What words of life! Do you feel charged and condemned? Remember that it is God who justifies, and it is Jesus Christ who is now interceding for us before God.
Can anything including trials and tribulations separate us from the love of Christ? Paul asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35 ESV) He continued saying, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
We are not victims but more than victors! Nothing can separate us from the love of God – neither death nor life, angels nor rulers, things present nor things to come, power, height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation – will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Hallelujah! Hence, do not be afraid of uncertainties in your life for God is your rock, your certainty. He does not change like the shifting shadows. (James 1:16-18) He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Finally, my dear brothers and sisters, “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:2-8)
I started reading God’s Word with a heavy heart. But upon reading, I find that His Word to be a comforting and soothing balm, offering hope and wisdom over what I am facing. Hence, take heart and be strong! Do not be afraid. In uncertainties, God is our certainty and our rock. He will do what He says in His Word.
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