We earlier posted a blog titled Contentment in the Lord, not money, which asserts that discontentment could signify that you’re not content with all that God is for you in Jesus. Contentment does not mean you shouldn’t work hard or be ambitious. Also, contentment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have dreams and goals you desire to achieve. Contentment means finding joy in all God is for us through Jesus, the greatest treasure of our lives. Once we are truly satisfied in Christ, he gives us rest so that whether in poverty or riches, our joy in the Lord remains constant. Contentment can be a blessing as we struggle with trials and challenges that can easily cause us to question God. How do we find contentment in God through all circumstances?
Trials are Normal
To truly find joy in God, which also means delighting in him, we must first understand that trials are something that every Christian faces (1 Peter 4:12). Faithfulness to God does not translate into fewer or no trials in our lives. Remember what happened to Joseph, a man who was faithful to God and his master Potiphar (Genesis 39:6-9), yet Joseph passed through many challenges. He was thrown into a pit (Genesis 37:23-24), sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28, 36), and went to jail for an action he had not done (Genesis 39:19-20). Moses was the meekest man on earth according to Numbers 12:3, yet he faced difficulty. The Israelites complained about their food situation to Moses (Numbers 11:1-10), their water (Exodus 15:22-27), his wife (Numbers 12:1-3), his leadership (Numbers 12:1-3), and they also had doubts about conquering Canaan (Exodus 14:1-4). There are many other instances of the Israelites complaining and making life difficult for Moses to the point of him wishing that God would kill him (Numbers 11:15). Joseph and Moses teach us that trials are normal for Christians, even the most faithful and meek ones.
Jeremiah also went through severe trials which made him known as the weeping prophet (Jeremiah 13:17, 14:17). He was so overwhelmed with the unfaithfulness of Israel to the point that he wished his head was like water and his eyes a fountain that he could cry tears day and night for Israel (Jeremiah 9:1). He also wished that he could leave his people and stay in a traveler’s lodge in the desert because they were adulterers, treacherous, and deceitful men(Jeremiah 9:2-3). Jeremiah knew what it was like to pass through trials. He was so tired of being persecuted by his fellow Israelites (Jeremiah 15:15-18) that he said that he would not speak the Word of the Lord anymore (Jeremiah 20:9). People whispered against him (Jeremiah 18:18), brought terror to him on every side (Jeremiah 6:25, 17:18, 20:10), and his trusted friends waiting for him to fall so they could call him a false prophet and kill him (Jeremiah 20:10, Deuteronomy 18:20). Trials are normal for Christians, even the most faithful ones. We may face challenges because of our faith, as Joseph, Moses, and Jeremiah did.
Why We Face Trials
Why do we go through challenges as believers? Aren’t we as Christians supposed to have the Lord’s face shining upon us (Numbers 6:24-26), have all our needs supplied (Philippians 4:19), enjoy good gifts (James 1:17), be exalted out of trials (1 Peter 5:6), receive grace (John 1:16), amase blessing upon blessing (Deuteronomy 28:1-5), enjoy spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), and have all basics of life added to us (Matthew 6:33)? All of these things are true for us and so are many other wonderful, encouraging promises in Scripture. But why do we struggle so much with trials?
Scripture gives us many general reasons why we, as Christians, pass through trials.
- Develop Trust in God’s Sovereignty (Isaiah 55:8-9, Deuteronomy 29:29).
- Develop perseverance and stronger faith (James 1:1-4)
- Develop humility (2 Corinthians 12:7)
- Dependence on God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
- Spend more quality time with him (Revelation 2:2-5)
- Protect us from unseen evil (Psalm 121:1-8, Psalm 9:7-10)
- Share in his suffering and know him more (1 Peter 4:12-16, 2 Corinthians 1:5-7)
- Make us more Christ-like (Romans 8:28-29)
- Develop character (Romans 5:3-6)
- Give us an opportunity to testify of God’s faithfulness even in trials (Psalm 71:14-17)
- Help comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Galatians 6:2)
- Help us focus on heavenly things and being with God (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
- Expose sin (Psalm 40:12-13)
- Show us that He is in control (Luke 8:22-25)
- Help us know Scripture more (Psalm 119:67, 71, Psalm 94:11-15)
- Develop gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Ephesians 5:20)
- Take our minds off the world and on to the Lord (John 16:33, Romans 12:1-2)
Joy in God
All of the reasons above have the goal of drawing us closer to God. Drawing nearer to God and knowing him brings fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Finding joy in God and knowing him more is the ultimate goal of the gospel. Consider what Paul says in Romans 5:9-11, that we’ve been saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9), saved through the life of Jesus (Romans 5:10), but more than that, we also rejoice in God (Romans 5:11).
John Piper says of these verses, “The end of the gospel is this “we rejoice in God,” God himself, the highest, fullest, deepest, sweetest good of the gospel, enjoyed by his redeemed people.” Peter builds on this, that the goal of Jesus suffering on the cross is to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Knowing the role of challenges, we realize that the joy we find in God is so extreme, which dulls the impact of any challenge (1 Peter 1:6, Romans 8:18). Instead of praying challenges away, we can focus on where they are pointing us to, God and his majesty (James 1:2-4). With this in mind, we should not allow trials to dampen our joy in the Lord. Even as we seek to repent not finding joy in God, we should be intentional to ask him to help us see his glory through Jesus Christ and delight in it (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).