How Tests, Trials and Tribulations Make us More Like Christ

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How does God use trials, tests and tribulations in our life? God allows only that which is good for us.

Being Like Jesus

You must not give up on your Lord; He knows your suffering …

How does God use trials, tests and tribulations in our life? God allows only that which is good for us. A good example is a tree. A tree grows most rapidly during times of strong winds. You might think a tree would grow fastest during calm winds, but the fact is, the resistance of the tree from the wind makes it grow faster and…stronger. In a similar way, every time we resist sin and we are facing a test in life, we become more like Jesus Christ. No one has resisted to the point of bloodshed like Jesus did, so remember, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4). Resisting and defeating temptation and enduring tests makes us more like Jesus, and that is a very good thing.

Hiding His Word

The psalmist gives us a great way to resist temptation and endure tests. We can have help in overcoming sin. How? The Psalmist tells us, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). This storing up of God’s Word means memorizing Scripture and quoting it when we are tempted to sin and tested by circumstances. Memorizing and quoting Scripture is like taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17) and using it to fight with. It’s the only offensive weapon in the armor of God that we have, but it is enough!

Covenant With God

Job had a great idea: He made a covenant with his eyes! Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin” (Job 31:1). When Job was tempted to look at another woman, he vowed to look away, thereby avoiding lusting in his heart for her. Jesus saw lusting as committing adultery in the heart (Matt. 5:28). Watch out what gets into your “eye gate.” Covenant with God to look away at ungodly images and you’ll live a holier life and become more like Jesus.Bible Verses For Thank You Cards

Be a Person of Prayer

Jesus told His disciples, “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:46), showing prayer is a great way to fight temptation and resist sin. When we are speaking with God, it’s a lot harder to cave into temptation and sin. Jesus was a man of prayer, and I’m not sure He could have done all He did without devoting so much time to it. If Jesus spent so much time in prayer, then how much more do we need it, being frail and feeble? Praying will help us avoid temptation, which can lead to sin, and this makes us more like Christ, so don’t lose heart because with God’s help, you can defeat temptation and survive tests by giving every ounce of your strength to resist it, by memorizing God’s Word, by making a covenant ahead of time to guard your eyes, and by being a man or woman of prayer. The more we defeat our temptations and endure tests, the more we become like Christ. Is there any goal more worthy than that?

Tried by Fire

When I was in seminary, some of the tests were brutal and I felt like I would never make it through it, but the trials of life are a lot different, for they usually last more than an hour. The Apostle Peter said, “… though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Don’t you test drive cars? The factory puts these cars through grueling tests to make sure they won’t break down at critical times. God tests the genuineness of our faith to see if it’s real. Fire burns off and removes the impurities from gold to make it more precious, and so in the same way, trials refine and strengthen our faith because a faith that’s not tested cannot be trusted. My faith was doubled after visiting my old friend trouble.

Tests of Time and Trouble

Have you ever heard this: Satan’s always in a hurry but God never is? When we are making a major decision, there is the temptation to make a quick decision, but that’s not wise, for “they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31a). When you are considering making a major decision in your life, here’s some of the best advice that I could find: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a). It’s hard to be still, isn’t it? We want to make snap decisions, but I have discovered–and usually the hard way–that haste does make waste, but being still lets you know God’s will. One of my favorite memory verses is Romans 8:28, where it says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Think about that for a minute. We only see directly in front of us, but every trouble that comes into our life is going to work out for our very best and even the bad things do us good. It’s a matter of trust. Did you know that a broken bone that heals is twice as strong? Is Romans 8:28 right most of the time or all of the time?

Tests of Heart

Paul writes to the Thessalonians that “though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. … but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thess 2:2, 4). There is scriptural evidence that God tests our hearts. If you have been treated shamefully and have suffered for declaring the Gospel, that’s good. Rejoice in that you were persecuted for His name’s sake (Matt. 5:11-12). You will pass the test by not trying to please man but by trying to please God.

The Genuineness of our Faith

God uses tests to reveal the genuineness of our faith. He gives us tests of time to see if we will wait upon Him, He uses tests of trouble to see if we believe that everything will work out for our best, and He uses tests to see if we are trying to please men or trying to please Him. When you understand that life is a test, you’ll realize that nothing is insignificant in your life. Jesus told His disciples that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7:14), meaning everyone that thinks they’re going to heaven may not be going. A life free from persecution or spiritual growth may indicate that person is not saved at all because the Apostle Peter said, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).

The Narrow Road

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

Our Lord said, the way to eternal life is narrow and few will find it because there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12), so “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). Remaining faithful is hard because we must “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). If it were easy, the path would be broad and many would be entering it, but we know many will think they are saved but this same many will be turned away (Matt 7:21-23), and led down a path that leads to destruction. Only the narrow path leads to eternal life.

Demonic Skirmishes

Once a nation has been defeated, there are usually a few skirmishes left, but for the most part, the enemy doesn’t have a chance. So it is with Satan and his demons. They can harass us or spiritually attack us, but they can’t separate us from God (Rom 8:31-39). A toothless, declawed enemy can hinder us but he can’t take us away from our God (John 6:37-39, 10:28-29). There are no shortcuts or other ways on this narrow, hard path. This is why God is “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Part of our training comes through various trials and this should help us to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15). If we don’t give an answer with gentleness and respect, they may never want to know Christ.


God plans on using us here on this earth but also in the kingdom of God. The Apostle John wrote, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:6). It was God Who “made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10), so “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6). God is planning on using you today…and tomorrow, and into eternity if you’ve repented and trusted in Christ, so today, you (and I) are in training about learning godliness and in being prepared to rule with Christ, although under Christ. Today, we are in the seminary of trials, tests and tribulations; the graduates are already with the Lord.

Here is some related reading for you: How God Uses Trials and Troubles to Trust Him

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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