Trials or bad things are anything that happens to us that we do not like, such as traffic, disease, natural disasters, or sin against us. But God looks at things differently. When bad things happen in our lives, God wants to get our attention and cause us to make changes and live according to His will. Regardless of the crisis at hand, the most important thing is how we respond.
In Acts 9, we find a man named Saul, a leader and Roman citizen, persecuting believers of Jesus wherever he can find them. [Note that in Acts 7:57, the clothes of the stoned martyr Stephen are placed at Sauls feet.] Saul is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians when a light from heaven brings him to his knees and he hears the voice of Jesus.
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? Acts 9:4
Just as organs and different body parts perform their functions to make up an entire human body, the Bible says that all believers work together in different roles to form the Body of Christ. For this reason, as Saul is persecuting believers, Jesus says that Saul is actually persecuting Jesus Himself.
1. In what ways is your lifestyle against God? Acts 9:1-2
Saul actually believed in God and believed that his position was righteous. He thought he was doing Gods will, but he actually was not seeing the truth of who God is or His purposes on earth. At this moment in Biblical history, God intervenes and disciplines Saul.
So what about you? Are you listening to God or getting in the way of His will? Do you criticize your brothers and sisters in the church? Are you resisting the work of God in your community or life? He may need to discipline you and teach you when something is not right.
2. Will your pain drive you to say, God why are you picking on me? or Lord, what do you want me to do? Acts 9:3-6
In shock and amazement, Sauls response is a humble one. Upon hearing the voice of Jesus, he is willing to turn and admit his wrongdoing in order to please God.
And he said, Who are You, Lord?
Then the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.
So he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what do You want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.
And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:5-9
Sometimes we want to throw tantrums simply because we believe the bad things we are experiencing are unfair. But God doesnt respond to complaining and whining; He wants us to be open to learning and growing. What do we gain by blaming God? We waste energy and time, as well as misdirect our frustration. We need to pay attention to what God wants to do in and through us in the midst of trial so that He may use the affliction to draw us close to Him and change us.
We need to pay attention to what God wants to do in and through us in the midst of trial so that He may use the affliction to draw us close to Him and change us.
Pastor Miles shared an analogy from his experiences learning to play golf. Sometimes his coach gives him a special instruction to be used only in a certain situation or with a specific club. But other skills and postures are to be used all the time, no matter the golf shot. In the same way, we know that asking God, What do you want me to do? is a posture and attitude that we should have all the time, regardless of our present situation. God is always right, and can therefore always be trusted to lead us according to His will.
3) What changes in your life is God trying to bring about through your pain?
God does not waste any opportunity or experience, so dont be distracted by the unfairness of your circumstances. Remember that life is always unfair; we always deserve worse than what we are experiencing because our sin deserves death and eternal separation from God. So if you are not dying and going to hell, then you are in a good spot! Gods mercy goes way beyond even the blessing of being allowed to liveHe offers us the gift of eternal life through the sacrificing of His Son.
So the next time you face a trial, dont respond with your immediate and raw emotion. Take time to think, pray, and listen. What is God actually trying to show you? What changes would He like to bring about in your life? What of His goodness can you gain by following His desires for you?