A brief glance at headlines these days can be a little disturbing. You will read of devastating earthquakes, riots, terrorist attacks, plan crashes, political scandal, social controversy and much more. Given the fact that these events always impact believers in one way or another, I have given a great deal of consideration lately to this issue of trials in the believers’ life.
One story the Lord has used to address this issue in my life is found in Acts 16:25-34. Paul and Silas had been arrested, beaten and thrown in jail for casting a demon out of a slave girl. Their response reveals two important truths about the way we should understand trials in our lives.
- Suffering is an opportunity for worship. The Bible records their response this way: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, while the other prisoners listened.” It is dangerously easy to miss the simple power of what this story actually reveals about these men. They had been beaten. They were in jail. And they were praying and singing! Rather than feel sorry for themselves or try to fix their problem, they just worshiped.
- Blessing is an opportunity for service. When God did deliver them, they didn’t high tail it out of there. They weren’t thinking only of themselves. No, they turned to the jailer – one of their persecutors- and had pity on him. They saved his life physically, and then shared the gospel with him. Paul knew nothing of the kind of Christianity that looks out for one’s own comforts and conveniences first. His priority was sharing the Gospel and he took every opportunity to do so.
I am convinced that for most Christians, a biblical understanding of trials will require a changed perspective on life in general. We must begin to see both our problems and blessings as opportunities to worship and serve others. If we continue to see life as all about “me,” trials will always be a frustration. God has a better plan. He wants me to look away from myself and turn my attention to Him and to others. This new perspective can keep any believer singing through their pain.