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How Christians can Endure Long Trials

Updated on September 2, 2016
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Sometimes our trials and tribulations seem never ending. How can we endure in what seems to be a hopeless, never-changing situation? I have been struggling to recover from breast cancer for about three years now. I spent many nights staring at the ceiling going, why me God?

Sometimes trials hit us through no fault of our own because of our environment or the people in our lives. These difficult times are tough because we also struggle with frustration and resentment at the injustice. The trial is a hard battle against becoming bitter and disillusioned. Other trials come because of our poor choices or our sin.

Either way, this can become a painful way for God to discipline us. In the end, we can experience joy, peace, and learn to become righteous. We can use the tools below the God provides for us to strengthen ourselves (Hebrews 12: 8-13).

I believe the words of Paul that say we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair (2 Corinthians 4:8). We may not have any control over our circumstances but we do have control over our response to them.

Identifying the enemy

If our trials stretch into years, we may feel discouraged, hopeless and depressed. We are vulnerable to the wiles of Satan, who walks around like a lion looking for something to devour (1 Peter 5:8). There are several lies that he tries us to convince us to believe so that we are stuck in anger, frustration, hopelessness, and despair.

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Isolation

When we are going through a trial, it is easy to feel alone. We see smiling faces around us and think, why do they get to be happily married, financially secure, or in good health? In this busy day and age, sad to say, many Christians are so caught up in their own lives that they don’t realize that others around them are struggling. They don’t call or talk to others outside of church or Christian events. We sometimes take advantage of this situation to isolate ourselves.

Isolation is not a healthy state, however. Human beings were not designed to face life’s challenges alone. A pastor once demonstrated this principle dramatically by using a pencil to represent a person. One pencil was easily broken. Two pencils could be broken, but not so easily. Three, not so much. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us and walks with us. Talking to a close friend, pastor or counselor can also be helpful.

Friends help us up when we are down (Ecclesiastes 4:10-11), but in the hurly-burly of daily life, many of us do not have these types of relationships. A recent study in “American Sociological Review” showed that one out of four Americans report that they do not have close friends, and approximately half of Americans only have two close friends.

Feeling powerless

Satan loves to tell us that we have no power to deal with our situation. The truth is, we do have some power. I may not have the power to make the cancer go away, for example, but I can control my eating habits, exercise, and sleep habits.

We hate to feel powerless, so sometimes we try to fix things ourselves. We end up in a worse mess than when we started. For example, some people go into denial that they might have cancer and try to fix themselves through a healthy diet, herbal remedies, and exercise. Then when they are driven by desperation to get a medical diagnosis, they may be beyond help.

We need to surrender to God and acknowledge that we are powerless to fix things on our own strength. This principle is the first step in many 12-step healing programs such as Celebrate Recovery.

Psalm 13

How long, Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide
your face from me?
How long must I wrestle
with my thoughts and day after day
have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph
over me?

Look on me and answer,
Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes,
or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say,
“I have overcome him,” and
my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Feeling ineffective

Sometimes we feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and shooting into oblivion instead of being heard by God. We should have confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers, even if His answer is not what we expect.

The trials will never end

One of the biggest lies that Satan foists on us is that our trials will never end. When trials stretch into years, and prayers seem to go unanswered, we long for answers.

David’s words in Psalm 13 reflect this longing, but expresses his faith and trust in God. Trials do end, often in unexpected ways. In the meantime, we need to live one day at a time and not worry about what may happen tomorrow, just as Jesus instructed.

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Survival tips: depend on God

If we wait upon the Lord, we will renew our strength, mount up with wings as eagles,run, and not be weary, and walk, and not become weak (Isaiah 40:31).

God is a refuge in times of trouble and cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).

Use the power of the Holy Spirit

God instructs us to use the Holy Spirit to help us endure. The Holy Spirit helps us with our weaknesses because we don’t always know what we should pray for, and intercedes for us with God (Romans 8:26). The fruits of the Holy Spirit are tools that help us get through the tough times.

Patience: Sometimes life is a waiting game and we need to ask God for the patience to endure.

Hope: Hope is the soul nourishment that keeps us going through the hardest times (Romans 12:12).

Joy: The first chapter of the book of James tells us to have joy while enduring trials.

Self-control: We can control our negative emotions and focus on the positive things in our lives. We can use self- control to keep us from sinking into depression or despair, or fuming with rage.

Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Assurances we can cling to

God promises that He will always meet our needs. Sometimes, we confuse our wants and our needs. God assures us that He will hear our prayers. God won't allow us to go through trials we can't handle.

Sometimes our unmet expectations are a part of God's plan for us. We may have lessons to learn or need to build character in some areas.

God is always with us

We are never alone. God has promised that He will always be with us (Hebrews 13.5) and sends us Spirit to comfort us (John 14:16-17). God also sends us supportive people and wise counsellors to walk alongside of us.

Our trials will come to an end

We will not suffer forever, if not in this life, in the next. God promises a reward for those who endure to the end.

I actually wrote a lot of this article while waiting to see doctors about cancer surgery and treatment. The threat of cancer coming back is still looming in my life but is decreasing over time. Whatever may come in the future, however, I feel assured that God will bring me through it.

© 2013 Carola Finch

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  • taiwokareem profile image

    Taiwo Kareem 2 years ago from Salford

    This is useful and encouraging. well written. We haven't faced so much trials as the disciples of Jesus who came face to face with death and persecution or that of Job who lost so man of his possession yet said "it is God that giveth and taketh away". He didn't sin by cursing God. Instead he praised God even when his wide said curse God and die.

    God is a loving God and uses trials and temptations to humble us. So it is said that there is no automatic promotion in the university of God. we all have to take each course one by one and pass.

  • Carola Finch profile image
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    Carola Finch 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for sharing, no body. I myself am a breast cancer survivor and am still struggling with the side effects of the treatment.

  • no body profile image

    Robert E Smith 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

    100 years ago Pastors used to pray that it's a wonder that more trials and tribulations do not come upon us because of the evil in the world and in the Enemy's heart. And then they would thank God for His love and mercy, His kindness and faithfulness because He only allows some evil to get through and never leaves us to handle that alone.

    But now people tend to think that pain has no place in our lives, that disease will never strike, that emotional upheaval should only be heard of, not experienced. The truth of the matter is that God does keep us safe from harm and the things He allows to get through to us are totally under His control. He does not wish us to flounder about in uncertainty. He wishes for us to grow in each trial we live through. He wishes us to take notes so the pain will not be endured for nothing but be a tool to comfort others.

    My mom had breast cancer many years ago when she was much younger. She had a bi-lateral radical mastectomy. And has not had a problem with cancer since.

    It is hard to look at problems objectively when you are at the center of the storm. But there are provisions from God to help you to keep an objective view. He has persons with the gift of counseling and consolation to minister through the church, if only people would reach out to the church. There are people that He puts into every person's circle of life that can help, if people would only reach out to have friends.

    You are so right that humans are not supposed to be alone. We are supposed to draw strength from each other. But even more so: we are to draw closer to God. He it is that will grant us strength for the fight. Most often people allow all their resentment to fall on God and then decide to hate the One that loves them the most. I think Satan loves this the very most. Jesus calls to us to love Him, He gave His all including enduring the most painful death ever devised and loved us before we even knew Him. There are not many ways to hurt an Almighty God, but there is one. His heart can be hurt. His Spirit can grieve. He can reach out and have us slap His hand away in ungratefulness. It is the sinner's way, I know but I see Jesus as someone that continues to be there each day, each moment that we push at Him and all the while the Devil laughing.

    I loved the article Carola. Voted up and interesting.

  • Carola Finch profile image
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    Carola Finch 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for your comments, MsDora. Cancer is one of the most challenging things a person can go through, but with Gods help, I am perservering.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    Carola, knowing that God is with us is one of the best realizations, but like you presented so well, human friendship helps to establish the connection. I pray for you that you maintain your abiding faith in God, and that you will find comfort in friendly words and deeds from someone who cares. I'm putting you on my prayer list.

    Your article is an encouragement!

  • Carola Finch profile image
    Author

    Carola Finch 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for your comments. I am certainly challenged to use this principles to survive myself.

  • freeradicalsteve profile image

    freeradicalsteve 3 years ago

    Well done, this is an excellent hub. Thank you for encouraging me in my trials. Kind regards, Steve.