By: Kenneth E. Hagin
But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:For I will shew him great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.–Acts 9:15,16
In this account in Acts 9, Jesus appeared to Ananias and gave him a glimpse of God’s plan for Saul’s life. God was going to mightily use Saul, later called Paul, to bring many into the Kingdom of God. Paul would experience great victories as he ran the spiritual race set before him. But that didn’t mean it was always going to be easy for him. Jesus told Ananias that He would show Paul,”…how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (v. 16).
The Apostle Paul, this great man of God, later wrote almost half of the New Testament, yet he endured many tests and trials as he served the Lord. Many Christians don’t like to hear that side of the Christian walk. If they had their way, they would read Jesus’ statement to Ananias like this: “I’ll show Paul the great victories and successes he’ll enjoy for My Name’s sake – no suffering involved”!
Many Christians today have the attitude, I’ll live for God as long as there is no sacrifice on my part. They want to float through life on flowery beds of ease without any tests or trials.
Some folks who hear teaching on faith get the idea that walking by faith means never having any problems. But walking by faith doesn’t keep you from tests and trials. God never promised in His Word that you wouldn’t have any trouble in this life. However, He does promise to be with you in trouble
and to deliver you as you trust Him.
14) Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15) He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I WILL BE WITH HIM IN TROUBLE; I WILL DELIVER HIM, and HONOUR HIM.
19) MANY are the AFFLICTIONS of the righteous: but the Lord DELIVERETH him out of them ALL.
That word “afflictions” means adversities, tests, or trials. It does not mean sickness. The Bible says Jesus bore our sicknesses (Isa. 53:4,5; Matt. 8:17). We don’t have to bear what Jesus already bore for us.
But Jesus said that in this world we would have tests and trials (John 16:33). So we can’t get away from the fact that the Bible says we will have trouble in this life. The tests and trials of the righteous are many. But God promises to deliver the righteous – out of just a few afflictions? No! He will deliver the righteous out of them all!
You see, that’s where faith comes in. You have to use your faith in the midst of the storm to believe God to deliver you.
The storms of life test your faith. But even in the midst of the storm, your faith in God and His Word can grow stronger. Actually, the Bible says the trial or testing of your faith is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7).
Exercising your faith in the midst of life’s tests and trials is one of the ways you build faith muscles. You do not build faith muscles merely by hollering, “I’m a believer! I’m a believer!” And you do not build faith muscles by sitting idly by in the midst of a test or trial, just waiting for God to do something. No, you’ve got to put your faith to work. Just as a weight lifter builds his muscles by putting them to work against opposing weights, you build your faith muscles when you put your faith to work against a test or trial.
How do you put your faith to work against a trial? First, meditate on the fact that Jesus is your Deliverer in the midst of any trial you may face. Then hold fast to your confession of faith that you are more than a
conqueror through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37). Proclaim with assurance that you’ll come out of the trial victoriously, because God is on your side and He will never forsake you.
Smith Wigglesworth said, “Great faith comes out of great trials.” If you never had any great tests or trials, you’d probably never develop great faith. But as you continue to put your faith to work against the adverse circumstances you face in life, after a while you’ll grow in faith to the place where you’ll welcome the trial! You’ll see it as another opportunity to build your faith muscles and prove God’s faithfulness to His Word.
I’ve known many people who sat under good faith teaching for years. Yet when they faced various trials in their lives, they would come to me crying, “Why did this happen to me?” I guess they thought if they walked by faith and made all the right confessions, they would never have any trouble in life. But they didn’t get that idea from me.
We need to realize we’re living in a world where Satan is god (2 Cor. 4:4). The devil always looks for opportunities to put roadblocks in our paths. And if we’re not careful to walk in obedience to the Word, we can unconsciously give him plenty of opportunities to try to hinder us.
We are in this world where Satan is god, but we are not of this world (John 17:16). We need to live according to the Word, not according to the ways of the world. Obeying God doesn’t guarantee a life free from all trials, but it does close the door to the troubles we can cause in our lives by our own disobedience.
Despite life’s storms that may come our way, as we obey God’s Word we can continually walk in the victory Jesus bought for us. Jesus said, “…In the world ye SHALL have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD” (John 16:33).
You see, overcoming by faith in the midst of tests and trials is the real faith message. People who say you will never have any tests or trials when you walk by faith are just building spiritual air castles. And when you knock down their spiritual air castles by showing them from the Word that they’re believing wrong, they will often become angry. That proves how spiritual they are!
It’s sad to watch people like that when trouble does come in their lives. They don’t know what to do. They just run around like a chicken with its head cut off, so to speak, wondering why they’re having problems.
But a believer who knows the Word can stand steady when a storm of life comes. The lightning can flash, the thunder can roll, the rain can pour down, and the flood waters can rise. But if a believer puts his faith in God’s Word to work against that storm, he has a sure foundation. The wind and the rain won’t affect him, and he will come out of that storm as an overcomer in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself talked about the storms of life (Luke 6:46-49). He gave an illustration of one fellow who built his house on the sand. When the storm came, this man’s house was swept away. But another fellow built his house upon the rock. When the storm winds blew and the flood waters rose, the second man’s house stood firm on the rock.
Some people say that Jesus was saying here that He is the Rock. And it’s true, Jesus is the Rock of our salvation. But Jesus wasn’t talking about that in this illustration.
47) Whosoever cometh to me, and HEARETH MY SAYINGS, and DOETH THEM, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48) He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
In this illustration, Jesus was saying that the rock we’re supposed to build our lives upon is hearing and doing the Word. We must be doers of the Word – not just when the sun is shining, but also when the storms of life come.
When all the bills are paid and everything is going smoothly, it’s easy to say, “Glory, hallelujah, I believe God’s Word! God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!”
But the sun doesn’t always shine. Storms of life come to all of us. That’s not unbelief; that’s just life. Yet when storms come, many Christians lose their testimony. They start complaining, saying, “I don’t understand why this is happening. That faith business just doesn’t work.” Of course, it won’t work for them; they aren’t being doers of the Word!
I remember a board member in one of the churches I pastored who was an example of a person who only shouts the victory when the sun is shining. For instance, during a church service, this board member jumped up and gave a glowing testimony. He shouted, “Glory to God! God meets all my needs
according to His riches in glory!” Then he requested that the congregation sing his favorite chorus. The lyrics went like this:
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible,
And He can do what no other power can do.
This board member was jumping and shouting in the church service. But his joy didn’t last very long. On the way home from the meeting, his wife just happened to mention that their son needed a new pair of shoes. The man lost his temper.
“It hasn’t been three months since you bought that boy a pair of shoes!” the man exclaimed.
The man’s wife tried to reason with him. “Our son is just growing quickly, honey. Besides that, the last pair of shoes wasn’t very expensive, and they’re worn out. So now he’s without a good pair of shoes.”
“Do you think I’m made of money?” the man snapped.
This man had just finished testifying and singing his favorite chorus: “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?” At church he talked about tunneling through mountains and crossing rivers, but then he fell down over a pair of kid’s shoes! Isn’t
that a good picture of how carnal Christians can be sometimes? It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic!
Don’t be like that man. See your tests and trials as opportunities to develop your faith. Build up your faith muscles. Then when the storms of life come your way, just hold steady. Having done all to stand, just continue to stand on God’s Word (Eph. 6:13)! Welcome every test, for if your foundation is built securely on God’s Word, that is where great faith is developed.
Smith Wigglesworth also said, “Great victories come out of great battles.” That’s true both naturally and spiritually. For instance, no army can claim a great victory unless it has first fought a great battle. In the same way, you won’t know great victory spiritually if you never face a test or trial that you must overcome with your faith.
Your perspective of a trial when it comes your way is very important. How you think, believe, and talk when you’re in the midst of that trial makes all the difference in the world. You need to always look at a trial as an opportunity to grow in faith rather than as a possibility for disaster or defeat. Doing that will help you hold steady and stand fast in faith when the storm rages around you. That’s the way to come through every trial victoriously!
The Word of God tells us that we can expect to have afflictions – tests and trials – in this life. But the Bible also promises that as we think, speak, and act in line with God’s Word, the Lord will deliver us out of every single one of them.
Determine to use every test or trial that comes your way to make yourself stronger in faith. You don’t ever need to be defeated. If you will put your faith to work against life’s trials, you will build strong faith muscles and come out on the other side of every trial shouting the victory!
(The above material appeared in the June 1992 issue of The Word of Faith.) Christian Information Network