James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Notice it says WHEN you fall into various trials instead of “IF you fall into various trials.” We’re going to face trials. What can we do to ensure we’re prepared for them when they come? How can we have a foundation that prevents us from being destroyed when the storms of life occur? Asa, King of Judah, provides a good example for Christians to learn from. What happens when the enemy (cancer, financial problems, rebellious children) isn’t defeated? How do we find victory in Christ?
- This is the first message I deliver at Enduring Trials God’s Way Conferences. Download and print the print the handout that’s given to attendees to have a conference in the privacy of your own home.
- Visit my speaking page for conference and speaking information, including testimonies, endorsements, and contact info.
- Receive a FREE copy of my book, Seven Biblical Insights for Healthy, Joyful, Christ-Centered Marriages.
Table of Contents
- Message Lessons for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
- Family Worship Guide for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
- Message Notes for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
Message Lessons for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
- Lesson 1: ____________ ____________ (James 1:2a; 1 Peter 4:12; John 16:33).
- Lesson 2: Trials are __________________________, but not accidents (James 1:2b).
- Lesson 3: A strong ____________________ is needed (Matthew 7:24-27).
- Lesson 4: Build during __________ of __________ (2 Chronicles 14:2-12).
- Lesson 5: ____________ provided ______________ over the greatest enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26, 15-57; Revelation 20:14).
Family Worship Guide for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
- Why should it be encouraging to remember God is in control while you are in the middle of a trial?
- Have you been “building your walls” during times of peace? If yes, how? If not, how will you build in the future?
- What daily trials do you experience that you need to be aware of, because of their potential to make you collapse?
- During trials, what characteristics of God can you focus on to help you better endure trials? Write down a verse (or two) to memorize that reveals this characteristic.
- Unbelievers and some genuine believers ask, “Why would a loving God __?” How would you answer this question, considering 1 Peter 3:15 says we must “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [for] a
reason for the hope that is in” us?
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:26-57. what encouragement can you take from these verses? What enemy did Jesus defeat, and how did He defeat it?
The text in this post is from Enduring Trials God’s Way: A Biblical Recipe for Finding Joy in Suffering, and the audio is from the accompanying audiobook. I am praying God uses the book and audiobook to strengthen your faith and exalt Christ!
Message Notes for When You Fall Into Various Trials and How You Can Prepare for Them
I’d like to share a story w/ you that Rachel shared w/ us when we were at the hospital w/ her soon after she received her cancer diagnosis…
She said that only a few weeks ago she was at her house, sitting with her feet in the kiddy pool, watching her kids, thinking:
The point is: things can change quickly. We have to be prepared for trials!
Please listen to this verse…
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy WHEN you fall into various trials
Notice James said WHEN versus “IF you fall into various trials.”
And this brings us to Lesson 1…
Lesson 1: Expect trials!
We’re going to face trials. They will come.
1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, AS THOUGH SOME STRANGE THING HAPPENED TO YOU.”
The Greek word for strange means, “surprised, astonished, or shocked.” So we’re told, “Don’t be surprised, astonished, or shocked by trials. Instead, we should expect them.
But what do we often say when we experience trials?
- How could this happen?
- Why is this happening to me?
- We might even say, “Why would God allow – or cause – this…?”
In other words, we act surprised, astonished, or shocked. But based on Scripture, we should say…
- Since I should expect trials, how would God have me face this?
- I know trials are part of the Christian life, so how can I handle this in a way that glorifies Him?
We should go through this life understanding we’re either experiencing a trial or we’re going to experience a trial. People who expect the Christian life to be easy and carefree will be in for a shock.
This is why it’s terrible to tell people, “If you become a Christian your life will be perfect.”
If you tell people this, there are only three possibilities:
- They’ll be upset w/ you later, possibly feeling like you lied to them.
- Or they’ll be upset w/ Jesus for not making their life perfect like you said He would.
- Or they’ll think Christianity is untrue. They’ll say, “If Jesus was real, He wouldn’t have let this happen to me.”
So we need to be honest w/ people when it comes to trials.
Here’s what Jesus ACTUALLY said…
John 16:33 In the world YOU WILL HAVE tribulation…or trials.
We should expect trials on this side of heaven!
Next look at the words fall into – or some Bibles say meet or encounter – and this brings us to Lesson 2…
Lesson 2: Trials are unpredictable, but not accidents.
Even though we should expect trials, we don’t know when they’re going to take place, which make them unpredictable.
I don’t like the words fall into – or even meet or encounter – b/c they make trials sound like an accident. Like we’re sort of walking along and:
- We trip and find ourselves in a trial.
- Or we happen to be going along and we just sort of run into one.
Trials might be unpredictable, but they’re not accidents.
If you see trials as accidents, then whenever you experience one, what are you going to say?
- I’m so unlucky.
- Why do bad things keep happening to me.
And probably the worst thing that can happen when people view trials as accidents is they think there’s something they did to cause them. They say, “If only I had done this instead, then this wouldn’t have happened.”
When people have this view of trials…
- They see their suffering as their fault…
- They think they could’ve prevented it…
- They’re left w/ guilt and regret…
- They beat themselves up, sometimes never being able to forgive themselves.
So we want to make sure we don’t see trials as accidents. There is nothing accidental about them whatsoever.
One of the main reasons people want to see trials as accidents is it’s troubling to them to think that God allowed – or worst caused – their trial.
For a moment, let me ask you to do something…
Think about the alternative:
- Let’s say God isn’t sovereign over – or in control of – the trials in our lives:
- Let’s say He isn’t directing our lives…
He’s just sort of sitting back saying:
- Why did this happen?
- I wish there was something I could do about it.
- If only this would’ve happened instead.
In my mind that would be way more troubling than thinking of God allowing trials in our lives for our good and His glory:
- If you could only choose one area of your life that you want God to be in control of…
- If you could only choose one area of your life that you want God to be sovereign over…
Second only to your salvation, wouldn’t it be the trials you experience?
Imagine people experience terrible trials:
- What is the ONLY way they can encourage themselves?
- What is the only thing they can say to find some comfort and peace?
“There are no accidents. It’s not that I’m unlucky. God is in control. He is sovereign. I can trust Him. He loves me. I am His child. He knows what’s best for me.”
And the trials we experience have the potential to do something that Jesus described in the Parable of the Two Builders…
Matthew 7:25 and 27 [Jesus said], “AND THE RAIN DESCENDED, THE FLOODS CAME, AND THE WINDS BLEW AND BEAT ON THAT HOUSE.”
What imagery is created by the words “beat on that house”? These are the trials that—like the house in the parable—make us feel as though we are going to collapse.
The parable teaches the only way we can make sure that doesn’t happen is if we have a strong foundation. And this brings us to lesson 3…
Lesson 3: A Strong foundation is needed.
At times, I think all of us have said:
- I don’t know if I’ll make it through one more day.
- I can’t do this anymore!
- I feel like I’m going to collapse.
What is the solution when we feel this way?
Jesus provided the answer…
Matthew 7:24-25 Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and IT DID NOT FALL, FOR IT WAS FOUNDED ON THE ROCK.
Since we need to expect trials, what do we need to make sure of?
We need to make sure we have a strong foundation. Otherwise, these trials can cause us to collapse.
Jesus promised that obeying His teaching enables us to survive even the worst storms.
I’d like to give you an illustration of this from the OT. Please turn to 2 Chronicles 14.
While you turn there, let me share something…
Unfortunately, sometimes people read the Old Testament and think:
- What does this have to do with me?
- How can I learn from people whose lives are so different from mine?
These are unfortunate questions to ask because the New Testament tells us the Old Testament is meant to instruct us:
- Romans 15:4a Whatever [is] written [in the Old Testament is] written FOR OUR LEARNING.
- 1 Corinthians 10:11a These things [in the Old Testament] happened to [the Israelites] AS EXAMPLES, and they were written FOR OUR ADMONITION.
We can learn from the accounts in the Old Testament, and I’d like us to look at one now that illustrates what we’re discussing.
We’ll begin at verse 2…
2 Chronicles 14:2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, 3 for he REMOVED the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and BROKE DOWN the sacred pillars and CUT DOWN the wooden images. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. 5 He also REMOVED the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him.
Considering we just read Romans 15:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the Old Testament is for our learning and provides us w/ examples:
- What are we supposed to learn from these verses?
- What is the example?
Simply put: Asa was ruthless w/ sin and we need to be ruthless w/ sin.
It could just say Asa removed the sin from the land, but notice the repetition of verbs: removed, broke down, cut down.
Asa is a great picture of the severity we need to demonstrate toward sin in our lives. We tend to treat sin way too lightly, but God wants us to remove sin the way Asa removed sin in his nation.
Think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you;
Jesus wasn’t telling us to do this physically, but He was telling us to do it spiritually. He was describing the ruthlessness with which we should deal with sin in our lives.
Look at verse 6…
2 Chronicles 14:6 And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest. 7 Therefore he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
Let me get you to notice the repetition of a few words:
- The end of verse 5 saysthe kingdom was quiet under [Asa]
- The second half of verse 6 says THE LAND HAD REST; he had no war in those years, because the Lord HAD GIVEN HIM REST
- In verse 7 Asa said [GOD] HAS GIVEN US REST on every side
Early in Asa’s reign, God gave him peace and rest.
There are seasons in our lives that God gives us peace and rest.
Now here’s the question I have for you…
When God gave Asa peace and rest, what did he do?
He built…and this sets a great example for us:
- Look at verse 6 And HE BUILT FORTIFIED CITIES in Judah, FOR THE LAND HAD REST…
- Look at verse 7 Therefore he said to Judah, “LET US BUILD THESE CITIES AND MAKE WALLS AROUND THEM, AND TOWERS, GATES, AND BARS, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” SO THEY BUILT AND PROSPERED.
And this brings us to Lesson 4…
Lesson 4: Build during times of peace.
Jesus said we need a strong foundation to endure the trials that come, and that foundation has to be built during times of peace.
Asa strengthened his nation physically, and we strengthen ourselves spiritually.
What does this look like?
- Pray and read the Word regularly
- Practice consistent fellowship
- Serve the body of Christ
But unfortunately, during times of peace, what are we often tempted to do instead?
- Do the opposite of build.
- We’re tempted to relax.
Then we are unprepared when trials come.
Let me illustrate the danger of this with a sports analogy…
I attended a small high school. Our football team had less than twenty players. While I have no doubt I would not have played at a bigger school, at my school I was the running back, punt returner, and kickoff returner. This doesn’t mean I was good, but it does mean I was tackled a lot. I learned there are two ways to be hit:
- The most common and desirable way is when it is expected. You know you will be tackled, so you prepare for the hit.
- The other type of tackle takes place when you are blindsided. Since you’re unprepared it can be devastating.
Sadly, many people are like football players running down the field, unprepared for the trial that’s about to blindside them.
I don’t want to say it’s too late to become serious about the Lord when you’re in the middle of a trial – b/c often God uses trials to bring people to Himself – but I will say it’s far from ideal.
Sometimes people experience a trial and then they begin praying, reading the Bible, and attending church consistently. What could we compare this to?
- Studying the day of a test
- Planning for retirement when you’re retired
- Beginning to discipline your children when they’re teenagers
My encouragement would be to follow Asa’s example, and make sure you’re building a strong foundation during times of peace.
Now because Asa strengthened his nation during times of peace, what was he prepared for?
He was prepared to be attacked. He was prepared for the trial that came! We all face trials, and Asa was no exception. Look at verse 8…
2 Chronicles 14:8 And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah who carried shields and spears, and from Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand men who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty men of valor (This army looks big until you read the next verse…) 9 Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah.
This is one of the most formidable armies recorded in Scripture and it’s coming to attack Asa! His five hundred eighty thousand soldiers don’t sound as impressive when you read that the Ethiopians numbered one million.
Now this is when people struggle w/ the OT…
They look at this and say:
- I’m never going to be attacked by an army.
- I’m never going to be a king having to defend a country.
- What can I possibly learn from this?
Ephesians 6:11 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (or we don’t wrestle against physical armies that attack us), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places
In other words, the battles we fight are spiritual…not physical:
- No, we don’t have armies of 1,000,000 soldiers attacking us.
- But we do have trials that MIGHT FEEL like an army of 1,000,000 soldiers attacking us.
Think of what this was like for Asa:
- He was completely desperate and terrified.
- This is how we can feel when we face trials of this magnitude.
To Asa’s credit, he responded wonderfully, and it serves as a great example for us. Look at verse 10…
2 Chronicles 14:10 So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”
This is what it looks like to turn to the Lord during a trial.
Let me get you to notice three things Asa did:
- First, he praised God. He recognized God’s power and sovereignty.
- Second, he poured out his heart to God. He shared the desperation of the situation openly and honestly.
- Third, he depended on God. Asa wasn’t looking anywhere else for help. He knew his army would fight, but he was looking to God for the victory: Pro 21:31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.
If you write in your bible, you might circle this prayer. Highlight it. Underline it. And pray it when you face a trial of this magnitude.
Asa’s trial was the Ethiopian army, but what might our trial be?
- A job loss
- Cancer diagnosis
- Unfaithful spouse
- Rebellious child.
When the trial comes, follow Asa’s example and cry out to God for help.
Look what God did in verse 12…
2 Chronicles 14:12 So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.
God honored Asa’s dependence on Him by fighting on his behalf and striking down the Ethiopians.
Now we’ve reached what’s easily the most difficult part of the sermon…
At this point, here’s what I wish I could tell you…
“If you depend on the Lord, He will strike down whatever enemy you face:
- If you’re sick, He’s going to heal
- If your child is sick, He’ll heal your child
- If your spouse is sick, He’ll heal your spouse
The problem is, this might not be true. God might not defeat those enemies.
But what I can tell you is Jesus has defeated the greatest enemy we face, and this brings us to Lesson 5…
Lesson 5: Jesus provided victory over the greatest enemy.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Death is an enemy that Christ defeats for us!
Listen to these wonderful verses…
1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible (referring to our earthly bodies) has put on incorruption (referring to the glorified bodies we’ll receive), and this mortal has put on immortality (when we’ve received eternal life), then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O Death, where is your sting? (in other words, death can no longer hurt us)
O Hades, where is your victory?” (Hades is another way to refer to death)
57 But thanks be to God, who GIVES US THE VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Death is most people’s greatest fear, but God gives us victory over this enemy through Christ!
In most Bibles, the word Death is capitalized, b/c God wants to personify it, or:
- He wants to make it seem like a person…
- He wants to make it seem even more like an enemy that Jesus defeated…
Asa faced the Ethiopians, we face Death.
To show just how clearly Death is defeated, Revelation 20:14 says Death [is] cast into the lake of fire.
You’ve got death going to hell! That’s crazy, but that’s how confident God wants you to be regarding Death’s defeat and your victory over it!
Just as God fought for Asa and gave him victory over the enemy he faced, Jesus has fought for us and given us victory over the enemy we face.
But here’s the thing…
Jesus has only provided this victory for those who are on His side. This victory is only for those who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus:
- If you have done that, then Jesus provides you with this victory.
- If you haven’t done that, then Jesus has NOT provided you with this victory.
Now two things before I close…
First, Living Hope has graciously invited me to provide you with copies of my book, Enduring Trials God’s Way. If you happened to like this sermon, I would encourage you to get a copy of my book, which will give you even more encouragement regarding trials.
The important thing to tell you is all the profit from your purchases will go to Rachel!
Second, at this time, here’s what I’d like to do…
- There are going to be people up front and they would love the opportunity to pray w/ you.
- I’m going to be up front and I would love the opportunity to pray w/ you.
- If you’ve never repented of your sins and turned to Christ, please come forward and give us the opportunity to speak w/ you.
- If you’re going through a trial or struggling or want prayer for anything else, please come forward and let us pray w/ you.