Many trials enter our lives without our permission or invitation. Some events are the consequences of sin while others arrive as unwelcome, seemingly unnecessary intrusions. A simple but thoughtless comment, a careless act or an annoying repetition can set our emotions spinning. Other trials are life changing, turning our world upside down. Whether simple or profound, these circumstances demand we respond.
People respond in numerous ways to the trials that God allows into their lives. Their responses often reveal the true condition of their hearts. Let’s consider a few common responses to see how God wants us to deal with trials and temptations.
Anger or Humility
For many women, anger is their first response to difficulty. Their frustration or worry is sharply declared through heated words that reflect their annoyed heart. The Bible says much about anger. Proverbs 14:17 declares, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.”
Ultimately the root of anger is pride. The incensed woman believes she does not deserve what has come her way. She holds herself in high regard, believing that difficulties and inconveniences should not plague her. She believes she deserves better and denies that any benefit could come from such aggravations. Anger then becomes the chosen response and any godly instruction in patience and maturity is lost.
Humility is the opposite response of anger. James 4:6 declares, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” When we realize our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), we cannot help but be humbled and amazed that a holy God provided the way of salvation through the death of God the Son.
Peter declares that we should be “clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility calls us to accept our circumstances as opportunities to bring glory to God by trusting Him without reservation.
Bitterness or Contentment
Other women react to difficulties with bitterness. Bitterness may not be evident as quickly as anger is, but it is deadly. Bitterness hurts not only the individual but also those around them—usually the ones they love the most. The writer of Hebrews 12:15 challenges us to look “diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” A plant’s roots spread deep within the ground while the plant grows. When bitterness is rooted within a woman’s heart, the ramifications are destructive. Her critical attitude and unforgiving spirit ravage the lives her bitterness touches. Those around her pay the cost of her bitterness.
Contentment should be the response of a woman who walks with God. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” A woman of contentment displays a heart of gratitude for what God sends into her life. Even in trials, she doesn’t allow envy and dissatisfaction to corrupt her rest in her heavenly Father.
Worry or Trust
Another common response to trials is worry. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus teaches to “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Since to “take thought” means to worry, the Lord Jesus specifically commands us not to worry about the things of this world. He promises to meet these earthly needs. To worry over material things means that we are not trusting God to supply what He clearly promises to provide. The choice to worry diverts our focus from trusting God and doing His will. Worry and trust cannot share a common heart.
Sorrow or Joy
James gives us God’s plan for responding to trials that could easily turn our hearts to sorrow or despair. He tells us in James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” James instructs us to respond with joy to our greatest struggles! How can God expect us to choose to rejoice in the midst of every trial?
Joy does not come from our circumstances or from any part of who we are. Joy is found in God alone. We can know joy only by knowing God. It is our choice to focus either on the trial or on the Lord Jesus. When we focus on the trial, we become overwhelmed. When we focus on Jesus and His power and love, we can rejoice in every situation!
Joy does not alter the circumstances, but it changes the attitude of our heart. A joyful heart can grasp the precious training that our heavenly Father is giving instead of squandering the priceless tutorial. Joy equals trust! Joy walks by faith!
The choice is ours. When trials come, may our hearts choose to respond in humility, contentment, trust and joy!
Written by June Kimmel. This article was published in the Fall 2016 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine. June and her husband David live in Wisconsin. They love spending time with their children and grandchildren.
Thanks for reading!