“Trial” is defined as “an affliction or trouble”. The remainder of the definition is very important: “act of testing or trying”. There are mainly four Greek words translated “trial” in the King James Bible. One of the four (purosis) suggests refining or testing by fire, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
The purpose of trials
God often allow difficulties to come our way to prove our faith. Various trials and tribulations that test our faith reveal whether we truly trust in God or not. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Gold must undergo the test of fire to separate it from the other elements that are found in the earth. It is God’s will that we come forth having faith that is more precious than gold, and so that we can be presented to Christ as a purified and holy people. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Though it might not seem to be so at the time, enduring trials produces humility and patience in us. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 10). “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5: 3).
The Scriptures address what the conduct of the Christian should be like while he or she is undergoing trials. There is to be rejoicing, praying, singing, and working. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2) … “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25) … “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4: 19). Therefore the believer ought not to give up praying, worshipping, and obeying God just because tough times are being faced.
God’s promises to those who endure trials
Regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh he was told, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God also promises deliverance in time of trial for his people. “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Psalm 34:7). Though God’s power is sufficient to keep us, yet He has chosen to appoint His angels to watch over us and deliver us from destruction. Another promise is the crown of righteousness. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Trials are part of life
Some of our problems are brought about by our own sins. “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Some difficulties come as a result of doing what is right. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Accompanying each “difficulty,” though, God has provided a way of escape. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Regarding trials James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3).
Even though most of us hate the very thought of experiencing problems and difficulties, we still need to undergo trials to challenge and make us stronger Christians. Without trials, we tend to go our own way and neglect our relationship with Christ. Listen to the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted: that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).