Hello Sister Xiao En:
Your letter says that you’re under the trial of illness recently, that you still don’t know why it happened to you though you have reflected on yourself, and that you don’t know how to experience and feel somewhat weak in spirit because of not understanding God’s will. As for how to experience in trials, we’d like to share some of our understanding and knowledge with you.
First, we should understand that all trials and refinement are God’s arrangements and that contained within them is God’s will.
records, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Jehovah is my God” (Zechariah 13:9). These words show us that God’s purpose of arranging various trials for us is to perfect us. When trials come, there are God’s good intentions and various requirements for us. Though we are unable to fathom them, we should be rational and confident, and obey the environments that God arranges for us. Just like Abraham and Job, when encountering trials, they believed there was God’s good will. So, though they didn’t see it clearly, they didn’t misunderstand or blame God. Instead, they accepted and obeyed God’s arrangements. Finally, they bore beautiful and resounding testimony to God, and thus they attained God’s approval and great blessings: God made Abraham a father of many nations, and his descendants were as many as the stars and the sand. As for Job, God spoke to him out of the whirlwind, allowing him to see God’s back. Besides, God bestowed him with double the fortune he originally owned and with better children, and extended his life expectancy twofold. From this, we can see that behind trials is God’s good will—to perfect our faith and obedience toward God. When we stand witness to satisfy God, we’ll see God’s appearance, which is the greatest blessing given by God to us created beings.
Second, we need to be quiet before God, pray to seek His will and obey Him in trials.
When faced with trials, we should come before God to pray, asking: Why do such trials befall us? What is God’s will? And how can we stand witness for God? Let’s take a look at how Job experienced when confronted with trials. At that time, his livestock was stolen and his children suffered calamity. Although he lost all his possessions in an instant and thus had nothing, he still rationally obeyed. Just as the Bible records, “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:20–21). From Job’s conduct, we see that he had a God-fearing heart in his trials. When he didn’t understand God’s will, he didn’t make arbitrary conclusions. Instead, he prayed silently to seek God’s will. Through seeking, he understood that his property, children and his own life were all bestowed by God, and thus it was natural for God to take them away. So, he obeyed and praised God from the bottom of his heart, bearing beautiful and resounding testimony to God. Take a look at us. We are far inferior to Job. When faced with trials, we not only don’t have an attitude of seeking and obedience, but instead often complain about and misunderstand God, and even betray and deny God. As a result, we fall under Satan’s domain, living in unbearable pain. So, all of us Christians should have an attitude like Job’s in trials, and only thus can we obtain God’s praise.
Third, we should pray more, read more of God’s words and ask God to protect us from blaming Him in painful refinement.
When we feel pain and weakness in trials and can’t overcome them, we should pray more to God, read more of God’s words, and contemplate and ponder God’s love. Besides, we should often fellowship with our brothers and sisters. Only in this way can we gain God’s protection, not following our flesh to blame God because of pain and weakness, and only then can we have confidence to stand firm and bear witness to God in trials.
Combined with the above three aspects, I’d like to share the experience of Sister Chen of our church with you. She actively performed her duties, enduring suffering and expending herself. Later, one day, she suddenly had an unbearable pain in her stomach. After being examined in the hospital, she was diagnosed with terminal uterine cancer. Then she underwent an operation. After that, she was told that she could live for two years at most. At that time, she felt very weak. She did not know why she suddenly got such a serious illness, yet she was aware that this trial was certainly permitted by God. So, during the treatment, she kept praying to God and seeking God’s will. Meanwhile, she asked God to protect her so that she could obey and make no complaints. Afterward, she often read God’s words about trials and pondered Job’s experience.
One day, she saw the following passage of God’s words, “When you face sufferings you must be able to not consider the flesh and not complain against God. When God hides Himself from you, you must be able to have the faith to follow Him, to maintain your previous love without allowing it to falter or disappear. No matter what God does, you must submit to His design, and be more willing to curse your own flesh than to complain against Him. When you are faced with trials you must satisfy God in spite of any reluctance to part with something you love, or bitter weeping. Only this can be called true love and faith.” From these words, Sister Chen understood that God used this trial of illness to reveal and perfect her. In the face of illness, she had no faith or obedience toward God, and even misunderstood and complained against God in her heart, thinking she shouldn’t have gotten this serious illness since she had made many sacrifices and labored for God. As a result, she felt weak and lived in a negative and confrontational condition. Having realized these things, she was aware that this trial was necessary for the growth of her spiritual life. In this environment, she saw that she had too little faith and no obedience toward God, that her suffering and sacrifice were to barter with God and receive His blessings, and that herwas too adulterated, which was fundamentally incompatible with God’s will. Moreover, she knew her life was given by God and so she should expend for God without conditions. After understanding this, she was willing to emulate Job, obeying God and standing witness for Him. Then, she came before God to pray and repent, saying she was willing to obey God regardless of whether her illness could be cured. Afterward, every time she felt unbearable pain caused by the illness, she would pray to God, asking Him to protect her from complaining against Him. After praying this way for a period of time, she found her stomach no longer ached. Then she went to the hospital for another examination. Unexpectedly, she was told that her cancer had miraculously gone. Through this experience, she has known that the trials and refinement given by God are His love and salvation and that His purpose is to change and cleanse her corruption and impurities. Therefore, she has more faith in God.
Sister Xiao En, we hope the above experience and understanding will be beneficial to you. When trials come, as long as we practice in accordance with the above three aspects, we’ll be led by God and thus be able to stand witness for God.
- You may be interested in: How Can Christians Not Lose Faith in God in Setbacks?
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