Have you ever experienced a trial? Some of you may not even know what a trial is. This past week we had a sewage backup in our house. We have to replace the floor in our half bathroom, repair the basement ceiling and replace the basement carpet. I told my husband that we are going through a trial this summer, because this is not the only testing of our faith we have experienced. My husband does not believe this is a trial. In this article, I hope to help you identify a trial in your life as well as give you 8 Steps to help you experience joy during your trial. Is it possible to go through a trial without letting it consume your thoughts, life, and your work? Is it possible to go on with your everyday life as if you are not experiencing a trial at all? I believe you can. We will examine the life of the Apostle Paul to see what he says about trials in his life.
So how do you know if you are going through a trial or if your situation is just a part of life? I believe that we need to define what a trial is, so we can first of all recognize the trials in our lives. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Definition of a trial
Trial – a test of faith, patience or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation.
If you feel your faith, patience or stamina is being tested, then you are going through a trial. Also keep in mind that a trial can mean different things to different people. A trial to one person might seem like a normal day to another. Our past experiences can determine what we believe is a trial. When a weak Christian is experiencing a trial, a strong believe might not consider the situation a trial. We should never belittle a person for what he or she perceives as a trial. A small trial to a strong Christian might seem monumental to a new believer. We should be sensitive to the individual’s ability to handle the trial, no matter how trivial it might seem to someone else.
Sometimes I get annoyed because I hear people say that Americans don’t know what a trial is, because we have not experienced persecution like the churches in China or the Middle East. Even if a trial does not seem as severe as the persecuted church, it can still be a difficult trial. I promise you that a family dealing with cancer or the loss of a loved might perceive their trial as more that they can handle. We should not make light of anyone’s trial. Job did not suffer persecution, but still lost his family, health and wealth. My dad used to tell me that he would much rather have a financial trial than a health trial. I have experienced both and the physical trial is much more taxing on my emotions than the financial. Someone else might feel differently and that is okay. No matter how trivial a trial might seem, we can still experience overwhelming emotional stress from these trials. There are many types of trials that we can experience. I listed the emotional trial first, because it can occur simultaneously along with the other types of trials.
Types of Trials
- Physical (Health)
- Financial – as a result of job loss, health costs, loss of home due to fire or acts of God
- Loss of a loved one
In the book of James we learn that we are to “consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials” James 1:2 (NASB). Now I don’t know about you, but this is very difficult to do. The Bible tells us to count it all joy, but how are we actually supposed to do that.
After examining the life of the Apostle Paul in the Bible, I have come up with 8 steps to help us experience joy during a trial.
8 Steps to Joy During Your Trial
When experiencing a trial:
Think of the things for which you are thankful. Do not dwell on the negative.
“We are hard pressed on every side (persecuted, make narrow), yet not crushed (keep someone in a tight, cramped place); we are perplexed (in doubt and difficulty, wit’s end), but not in despair (utterly without resources, no solution, no way out); persecuted (like a hunter pursuing a catch, hunted down), but not forsaken (abandoned, deserted); struck down (thrown to ground, prostrate, passive), but not destroyed (dead, utterly destroyed)– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV).
Did you lose your house in a flood? Well be thankful you didn’t lose your life. Rather than dwell on his hardship, Paul looks at the positive. We can do the same. When suffering through a trial, think of all the things for which you are thankful.
Remember that the trial will not last forever.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV).
Even if you don’t experience relief until you die, remind yourself that there is no suffering in heaven. As believers our hope is not in this world, but in our inheritance which is in heaven
Do not be anxious but pray.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV).
Occasionally we might get upset about the situations going on in our lives. We call our mother or our closest friend, because we want sympathy. If we don’t agree with what they have to say, we seek out someone who will agree with us. This might make us feel better for the moment, but individuals do not have the power to relieve you from your trials. Instead of running to people, we should run to our heavenly Father in prayer. He is the only one who can bring us joy and peace during a trial. Joy and peace are actually fruit of the Spirit given to those who walk in the Spirit. A person might give you some sympathy and temporary relief, but only the Holy Spirit can give you joy and peace. To learn how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, please see my post “4 Steps to Being Filled With the Holy Spirit“.As you pray during your trial, ask the Lord to relieve you of your trial. If he chooses to let you suffer a while, then pray for joy and endurance to persevere during the trial . Many times it seems my trials last a little longer than I would like for them to. I believe the Lord is teaching me endurance when this happens.
Forget what has happened in the past and reach forward to building a future.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”
Many times we like to live in the past. If someone hurt our feelings, we like to rehearse the event over and over in our minds. Or we might say, “I wish I would have done ________ differently”. You cannot change your past, so it is time to leave the past behind. Psychologist teach you that you should uncover your past to figure out why you are the way you are. We might need to look briefly in our past to make sure that we have forgiven those in our past who hurt us or tried to do us harm. Do not dwell in the past. Psychologist do not have all the answers. I like to call pshychology, “man’s answers for God problems”. We cannot solve our problems through manmade solutions. Instead we should take our problems to the Bible and to God in prayer for Him to solve our problems. Paul told the church at Philippi to forget the past and move forward.
Press on. Do not let the trial consume you mentally and/or physically.
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14 (NKJV).
I am really good at allowing my trials to consume me. I suffer from back and neck pain. When my back or neck goes out, it can send me into a mental slump which can last for days. I sit in my red chair and feel sorry for myself. The laundry goes undone, the groceries remain at the grocery store and I get nothing accomplished. I beg the Lord to heal me over and over.During these pity parties, I also like to read my favorite pity party story in the Bible. Which is that you might ask? It is the story of Elijah sitting under the juniper tree in 1 Kings 19. After Elijah had the big showdown with the Baal prophets, Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah ran away and sat under the juniper tree asking God to take his life. If you are feeling sorry for yourself, then read this story. It is sort of comical and sure to lift your spirits.Do not allow yourself to have an all day pity party. You might set aside a period of time to be depressed, but then get up and do something. We my sister saw a grief couselor after he baby died. The counselor told her to set a timer. Allow yourself to grieve for the specified time everyday, but then you have to go about your day. We have to press on with our lives, even during the trial. The world will not stop for your trial and neither should you.
Take every thought captive. Do not rehearse the trial over and over in your mind.
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB).
Satan would love to make you miserable during your trial. He and his demons will put thoughts in your mind to try to make you depressed. Have you ever had a thought pop into your mind about someone who did something bad to you? You could be having a good time then all of a sudden a thought of unforgiveness will pop into your head. I believe these thoughts are coming from Satan’s demons trying to rob you of your joy. When this happens to you, do not entertain the thoughts. Rebuke them in the name of Jesus and force your mind to concentrate on something joyful. You might be surprised at how quickly your joy returns. If rebuking is not enough, then turn on prasie music. Satan and his demons despose praise music.I just finished reading Joyce Meyer’s book, The Battlefield of the Mind. I had never read any of her books before. This book was very helpful to me. After putting to practice what I learned from this book, my joy was restored in a couple of days. In this particular case, I had to work through some forgiveness issues. Unforgiveness will rob you of your joy, so please find it in your heart to forgive any wrongs commited against you.
Think about good things
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” Philippians 4:8 (NASB).
When you decide to take every thought captive, change the bad thoughts to good thoughts. It is easier than you think. When the depressive thought comes to mind, start thinking of something joyful. We do not have to dwell on negative thoughts. Your list of thoughts can be found in Phil. 4:8. Start thinging of things that are true, nonorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellence and worthy of praise. If you follow steps 6 and 7, your joy will return.
Do something nice for someone else.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” Matthew 10:42 (NKJV).
When suffering through a trial, it is easy to become “me” focused. Rather than think about or feel sorry for yourself, try to do something nice to someone else, especially if that someone is less fortunate than you. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are helping the needy.