We will face challenges in this life. Just because we go through hard times does not mean God has forgotten about us or that we are outside of His will. Challenges are meant to lead us closer to Jesus. Whatever trials or struggles you are facing today, just realize that you are not alone. God is with you, and He is for you. Also, you have brothers and sisters in Christ who want to walk with you through the struggles. Use this time to draw closer to God and to become the man or woman He created you to be. Live out your life purpose regardless of the struggles.
Life On Purpose: Persecution / Trials
Persecution & Trials – How Do We Respond?
Each person has something in common: we have all gone through a trial in our lives. Though everyone’s “trial” may look different, each person has faced a challenge in their lifetime, and it’s very likely that they’ll face another in the future.
As Christians, we oftentimes may think or believe that when we are in the center of God’s will, then all aspects of our lives are running smoothly. There are no hiccups, no tribulations, no complaints.
But this is simply not the case. In actuality, Jesus promises the opposite. In John 33:16, He says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You will have trouble – there’s no doubt in His statement. He’s preparing us to know that our lives as Christians aren’t meant to be easy, unchallenging, or uncomplicated.
We will have trouble, but Jesus uses these troubles and tribulations to change our hearts, strengthen our hope in Him, and further His Kingdom. Our persecution and trials are not without purpose.
What the Bible Says about Trials & Persecution
Acts 14 tells the story of Paul and Barnabas being persecuted by the people in the city. The pair of believers were in the city to share the Good News of the Gospel with the people there, and Acts 14:1 says that “a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.” Their presentation of the Gospel was effective, and the fruit of their labor was being shown!
Just several verses later, however, the story takes a turn and tells us that the people there were stoning Paul and dragging him out of the city – because they thought Paul was dead! The persecution that Paul and Barnabus faced there was extreme, but they weren’t discouraged. Their faith was merely strengthened by this trial, for they returned to that very same city to continue preaching the Gospel (Acts 14:21-22).
Though we may not all face this magnitude of persecution, we know from Jesus’ words that we will all face challenges; however, our challenges are not in vain. Rather, they are meant to bring us closer to Jesus and closer to those who are also walking through life’s hard circumstances. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Our troubles may not seem light and momentary when we are walking through them, but when we live in light of eternity, knowing and trusting that God is in our trial alongside us, it changes our attitude about the challenges.
This is what Paul did in spite of the severe persecution he faced. He pressed on, keeping his eyes on the truth that sharing the Gospel with the people in the city held the potential to change their eternities. Because of the trials, his faith was strengthened. And because of his faith, the eternities of many were impacted forever.
If you find yourself walking through a trial today, like Jesus said, take heart. This isn’t meant to minimize or take away the pain and struggle you are experiencing because of the trial; instead, this is meant to encourage you to hold on to the truth that Jesus will use this trial for your good and His glory.
Along with this, you, too, have brothers and sisters in Christ who long to walk through this trial with you. The Bible emphasizes the importance of community in the body of Christ, and it’s especially needed when we have brothers and sisters going through tough seasons. We are not alone, and this includes both your Christian community and God himself. Jesus is called Immanuel for this reason – He is God with us.
While you walk through a difficult season, we challenge you to use that season as a time to draw near to God, look for the lessons that He is trying to teach you, and become more like the man or woman that He created you to be. It may be that the very struggle you are in is the very way that you learn what God has created your purpose to be. Take heart.