How to Handle the Trials of Life

Stress

Everyone faces trouble in life. But for the Christian, it is important that we know how to handle the trials that we will encounter in a way that will please God.

The apostle Paul is an example of one who had many struggles in this life. His suffering was such that he told the brethren in Corinth, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) and that he was “in danger every hour” (1 Corinthians 15:30). In his second letter to these brethren he spoke of the suffering he faced for the cause of Christ – labors, imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks, and more (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). When he wrote to the brethren in Philippi, he mentioned that there were times in which he was “going hungry” and “suffering need” (Philippians 4:12).

How was Paul able to handle all of this? He told the Philippians, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

As we face trials in this life, we can handle them as Paul did – through Christ. But what exactly does this mean? In practical terms, what must we do to overcome these hardships? What does God provide to aid us in our efforts? What attitude must we have to be successful in dealing with the trials of life? To answer these questions, we must look to the word of God.

Prayer

Instead of being anxious and worrying about things in life, we should pray. Paul wrote, “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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). As we pray, we must always pray for God’s will to be done (cf. Matthew 6:10; 26:39), knowing that it will be done (1 John 5:14-15).

However, we must understand that after praying to God, the circumstances about which we prayed will not necessarily change. Paul “implored the Lord three times” that his “thorn in the flesh” might be removed, but it was not (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). However, even though circumstances may not change, we can obtain the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:7). How? Much of it has to do with our mentality. When we pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6), recognizing what God has done and what He has promised, we can have peace to help us deal with our struggles in life.

Providence

We need to be careful how we define providence. For many, their definition is pure speculation that often borders on miraculous divine intervention. The simplest definition of providence is that which God provides. What God provides us can help us handle the hardships of life.

So what has God provided that can help us deal with the trials of life? First of all, he has provided evidence of His care in the created world. Jesus pointed this out when He said: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26). As we see God’s care for His creation, we can take comfort in the fact that He cares for us (cf. Psalm 8:3-4). God has also given us His word which contains “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), providing the instructions, guidance, and reminders that we need. He has also provided us with the church where we can get needed encouragement from our brethren (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25). There may be other provisions that could be added to this list, but these are examples of what God has provided for us that will help us handle the trials of life.

Promises

God has promised us the hope of eternal life (1 John 2:25). Though life is often difficult, this hope is “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19), providing stability and security for us as we live in uncertain times.

No matter what happens in this life, we have something better awaiting us if we are faithful to the Lord. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). At the beginning of this article, we briefly noticed the sufferings that Paul endured (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Many would call such suffering severe. Paul called it “momentary, light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Though he was afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, Paul knew he was not crushed, despairing, forsaken, and destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We must not allow the things of this life to distract us. As the apostle told the Colossians, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Praise

It is not always easy to praise God in the midst of trials. But we must remember that God made it so that man would have both good and bad days in life. The wise man wrote, “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). Solomon’s point was that we must learn that life is uncertain. Therefore, we must put our hope and trust in the one who is constant – God.

Do not let temporary hardships cloud your perspective. Even in difficult times, God is worthy of praise as we consider His providence and His promises to the faithful. Remember the example of Job. After losing his wealth and his children, he did not blame God or curse Him. Instead, he praised God: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’” (Job 1:20-21). If we fail to praise God, we will lose sight of the one who is the source of every good blessing (James 1:17). This will only make our trials harder to handle.

Patience

Because of the difficulties that exist in this life, patience is necessary in order to receive the things which God has promised His people. The Hebrew writer told the brethren to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Without such patience, one will eventually be overcome by the trials of life.

James explained that dealing with trials in life helps us to develop patience (endurance), which leads to perfection: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Remember that every trial in life is only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:17). Do not allow the “worries…of this life” to choke out the word (Luke 8:14).

Perseverance

Patience and perseverance are related to one another, but they are different. Patience has to do with enduring what is bad around us. Perseverance is about continuing to do good despite the conditions around us. Jesus said that the one with “an honest and good heart” will “bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15). If we “seek…eternal life,” we must persevere “in doing good” (Romans 2:7). In other words, we must continue to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Conclusion

When trials come in life – and they will – Christians must handle them properly. Do not let them distract you from what you ought to be focused on. Do not let them turn you from God. Instead, pray to God and praise Him, remember His providence and His promises, and always display patience and perseverance in your life. Life is not always easy, but you can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).


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Comments

  1. I appreciate your good thinking, Andy, and would like to use this article Sunday as I believe the other members would be benefitted by it and encouraged.

    Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Wayne!

  3. Thank you for this great message on the trials in our life and how to deal with it.
    I hope you don’t mind brother,I will be using this subject and some of your message in my message tomorrow.God bless you and keep up the good work you are doing.