Christian mythology is very interesting at times. One of my “favorite” Christian myths is that once you commit to following Jesus as your Savior, all your troubles will go away. I’m not sure how that myth started. Perhaps someone was talking about their problems and a friend told them that Jesus could take care of their problems. They misunderstood and so the belief began that Christians never have problems. Maybe it was the televangelists who proclaimed that and people sitting at home with real problems, because they are real people, were afraid then to admit they had any problems. Just so you know: I have problems. I struggle with sin. I struggle with my relationship with Jesus because God doesn’t always do things my way. I am a follower of Christ. If anyone tells you that Christians don’t have problems. Let them know about me.
Perhaps that myth arose because people see God as being just like the rich father who makes sure that his kids get out of trouble. When they do something wrong, there are no consequences because daddy smooths it over. It is amazing that anyone could have that view of God when you look at the history of the church. God’s people have undergone horrendous persecutions in the past, and in some areas of the world, that persecution continues. So why do we deal with these persecutions and trials? Why doesn’t God just wipe them away? He will, one day. In the meantime: “These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)
Here is the truth about Christians and trials. They come. Following Jesus does not give us an invisible force shield that automatically keeps us from having trials. At times, it seems our faith is more like a magnet to attract trials. In Peter’s day, a commitment to Jesus could mean that your family would disown you or your job would be lost. Such a commitment might lead to other persecution including death. According to legend, Peter was eventually killed by crucifixion – although he asked to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. The troubles that we all deal with reveal the quality of our character; the trials we deal with as Christians reveal the genuineness of our faith – as well as increasing our faith.
So, if you ever had the idea that being a Christian meant you would never have trials, let me say this as gently as I can: the trials are coming. It may come in the form of trouble that all people endure and the world will watch to see how you react. It may be specialized: people making fun of you for following Christ, family disowning you, lost promotions at work, lost jobs. Here in the US we don’t normally face full blown persecutions, but in other parts of the world making a commitment to Jesus can lead to torture and death. When we face trials as Christians, we must face them as Christians. Let others see the hope we have in Christ when we go through those difficulties. Let others see the genuineness of our commitment. The Church has often grown during times of persecution in large part because Christians have shown people the truth of their faith in the midst of those persecutions. When the trials come, we can do no less.
Oh Lord, I’d rather not face any trials, but I know that they’ll be coming. Let my attitude and reactions show others of my commitment to You and the truth of my faith in You. Let me show others of Your presence in my life when those trials come.