Turning Your Trials Into Triumph, Pt. 1

Scripture: Romans 8:28, Genesis 45:4-8
Date: 02/11/2023 
Why do we go through trials? How can we turn our trials into triumphs? Part 1 of 2

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Announcer: This presentation is brought to you by the friends of the Amazing Facts Ministry. Doug Batchelor: It's been many years, but it still feels like yesterday. Living in a cave, high above Palm Springs, no money, no prospects, just drifting through life, deeply confused about who I was and wondering if life held any purpose. Coming from a wealthy family, I could have had it all: money, power, fame. But this all struck me as plastic and empty. It wasn't until I was at the lowest point in my life when I found true meaning. Somebody had left a Bible in my cave. And I quickly discovered why this is the number one bestseller in the world.

Friends, I can't even begin to tell you what the Bible has done for me. It's the awe-inspiring living Word that has the power to transform human hearts. Jesus said, "If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you'll know the truth and the truth will make you free." And this is still the truth today. And it's the reason that I'm standing here today, thankful to be able to proclaim His Word and eager to bring hope to those in need. I truly believe that today's program is going to fulfill that desire and leave you with a rich blessing. And don't forget, stay tuned for our very important free offer at the end of this presentation.

Doug: You know, I like amazing facts, and the athlete that has won the most medals of any athlete in the world is Michael Phelps, in many categories of swimming. I thought this was a very interesting picture of one of his final gold medals that he won. You can see he's kissing the medal. He's standing on the podium and you see the tears come into his eyes as they're playing the national anthem. It's a pretty grueling process to get to the Olympics. First of all, anyone who makes it to the Olympics is a champion because there, they are representing their country because they've already gone through incredible discipline, training, trials, tribulations, before they experience the triumph of being chosen to even go to the Olympics. But to win in the Olympics is a whole another level of training.

I went online and looked at some statements from Michael Phelps regarding his regimen of training. By the way, he won, was it 28 medals? Twenty-eight Olympic medals, twenty-three of them gold medals, in all different categories of the swimming events. Becoming the most decorated Olympian ever doesn't come cheap. He's often have to grind often and harder to get there. His workouts were punishing. His body is well suited to swimming, which plays into his success, but his real secret to success is how hard he worked in the gym, in the pool, every day. His workout was intense, his diet pretty extreme.

But if you're going to aim for becoming the best of the best, then you're going to have to push yourself further than the rest. Michael says, "In preparation for Beijing, I started adding weightlifting to my dry land work. Since then, we've been expanding the amount of weights I'm using and I'm running more than I ever have. Push ups and pull ups also have to be essential. For me, some of the most effective drills focus on vertical kicking and underwater kicking." Phelps said, "It's painful but very effective." It's painful. "In Beijing, when my goggles filled with water, I didn't panic."

Can you imagine that? You're in an Olympic race, you dive in the water, and your goggles fail and they fill up with water and you're blind now and you've got to race several laps. "When my goggles filled with water, I didn't panic." He says, "I went back to all of my training. I knew how many strokes it would take me to get up and down the pool, so I started counting my strokes. I didn't reach the time I wanted, but I did win the race." I think sometimes we don't know how much training is involved.

They say that there's trials and tribulations of training before you can turn that into triumph. Well, God wants you to receive the gold. He wants you to walk on the golden streets and get your golden crown, and you are in training right now. And it feels like trials and tribulations, but this is par for the course. Because the Lord loves us, you're going to experience trials. They teach us to trust.

But you know, if you're God's child, there's a promise and you probably know it. In Romans chapter 8, says in verse 28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." God allows trials and He's usually using those trials for one of two reasons. One, God wants to do something in you. Two, God wants to do something through you. Sometimes it's both. Any trial or trouble or tribulation that you might go in through--be going through or some form of suffering, usually God is going to use it because He's doing something in you. He's teaching you. He may also be witnessing through you.

You know, we do our best witnessing through trial. That's the best time to let your light shine, is in the darkness, amen? And often it's a combination of the two things that you're going through. And I know if I'm going through a hard time, sometimes we go through trials because we just haven't made good choices and God is trying to teach us. You're going through some fastening--chastening rather, and some discipline. And I've often prayed, "Lord, whatever it is You're trying to teach me through this, please help me learn it so I don't have to take this class again," amen? And I think I have learned some things along the way that have saved me from unnecessary suffering. Important biblical principle: Everybody is going to experience tough times. We will all experience suffering.

You know, there's a wonderful story in the Bible in the book of Genesis, and you can see on the side panels, the story of Joseph being reunited with his brothers. That comes from Genesis 45. And I'm going to be reading to you verses 5 through 8. After he reveals himself to his brothers, I'll start with verse 4, Genesis 45. "And Joseph said to his brothers, 'Please come near to me.' So they came near and he said, 'I am Joseph, your brother, who you sold into Egypt. But now, do not be angry or grieved with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years of famine has been in the land and there are still yet five years in which there'll be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.'"

Joseph was saying all that suffering that I went through, God had a plan to save much life through it. And you know, I think knowing there's a purpose in what you suffer, makes it a lot more bearable, amen? Not only that was God going to feed the people of Israel there, but you can read in Genesis 46, verse 3, Jacob was apprehensive about taking everybody down to Egypt. "God said, 'I am the God of your father. Do not fear to go down to Egypt for I will there make you a great nation.'" Now, did God make a great nation for them in Egypt? Did the children of Israel have some trials in Egypt? They were being forged into a great nation through trials. They were crying out to the Lord, "Why is this happening?"

You know, nations are rarely born without suffering. When America was born as a nation, did they experience some suffering in the process? Yeah, it's often in the context of war. There is blood, sweat, tears, pain, and then you have a birth and that's true in the political realm, it's true in the physical realms. Knowing how to consider your troubles can make your life a lot happier. See, a Christian's joy is not held captive by circumstances. When you're a Christian, you can have joy regardless of the circumstances of what you might be going through. The Bible says, "Rejoice in all things, rejoice forevermore." And so you can have a joy because if you understand what the purpose of trials is, you embrace them and that turns your trials into triumph.

Everybody struggles. A lot of us do a good job of hiding it. Saint Augustine said, "God had one Son on Earth without sin, but He's never had a son without suffering." Everybody struggles. You know, Jesus said in John chapter 16, verse 33: "These things I have spoken to you that in Me you might have peace. In the world, you'll have tribulation. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus said, "You will have tribulation," but you notice He said, "Be of good cheer" and "You can have peace."

So yes, there's going to be problems in life. Tribulations, problems, it's the same thing. But you can still be cheerful and you can still have joy and you can still have peace in spite of the trials and the problems. God can turn them into triumphs. 2 Timothy 3, verse 12: "Yes, all who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution." As soon as you make up your mind you want to be holy, the devil is very upset. After Jesus was baptized, the devil came after Him in the wilderness. After the children of Israel went through the Red Sea, they were attacked from behind by the Amalekites. It's normal procedure for the devil to be threatened when you change teams. So all who desire to live godly are going to suffer persecution.

Paul says in Acts chapter 14, verse 22: "Paul was strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, saying, 'We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God.'" You notice, he didn't say we could or we may. Said we must, through a few, through many, tribulations enter the kingdom of God. There are going to be a lot of challenges and problems in life. Don't get discouraged by it. Look at each one as an opportunity to grow, to be more like Jesus, and to be a witness to others. You are training for the trophy. You're working towards the gold. It is this part of the regiment of exercise of your Christian character that you might grow.

Viktor E. Frankl said, "A man can endure almost any suffering if he sees a purpose or a meaning in it." If you understand that God has a purpose in it, that you're going to reap the benefits from it, and you've probably heard this illustration used ad nauseam, but it's a muscle, you know? And if you want to see an improvement in your strength, in your muscles, you've got to exercise. The exercise--I mean, few things are more boring than weightlifting. It really is. You're not--you're not getting any work done, you're just--but as you're doing that, something's happening and your body is getting stronger, and after a few days you can stand in front of the mirror without total shame. Say, "Look at that, a new ripple." And so, there's a blessing that comes, but you've got to just-- you've got to endure the pain for the gain, as they say in the gym.

You're going to have problems in life. You are probably all experiencing various degrees of problems, right now. The reason job is a hero in the Bible is because he got hit with every possible problem all at once. But almost everybody, you've got problems in the family, there may be financial problems, you might have physical problems. There can be all kinds of different problems we grapple with. But God can use each of these in shaping you.

First of all, recognize our spiritual need. One reason God allows trials is so that we can recognize, become aware of, our spiritual needs. 2 Chronicles 32, verse 31, it says: "God withdrew from him," King Hezekiah, "in order to test him that he might know what was in his heart." Now is that so God could know what was in Hezekiah's heart? Or does Hezekiah--or does God know everything? God knows everything. Sometimes God uses this wording. It's like God came down to Abraham and said, "I've sent two angels to Sodom to find out if what I've heard is true." Well, God knows everything. Nothing takes Him by surprise. But was it so God could find out what was in Hezekiah's heart or Hezekiah could find out what was in his heart?

You know, if you want to discover what's in a vessel, bump it. Sometimes you got to bump something to find out what's inside. And sometimes God will have to shake us up a little bit and we discover what's going on. We didn't know. Exodus 9:27: "And Pharaoh said to them, 'I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous and my people are wicked.'" What brought Pharaoh to that confession? It was the tribulation of the plagues he saw. He said, "I and my people are wicked." He became aware of it and he could have repented then, but he hardened his heart. But it was in the context of the trials. He finally came to the point of realizing on the problem. Sometimes that's what it takes.

So, one thing, of course, is to recognize that God is helping us become aware of our spiritual needs. And that's a blessing. That's a good thing. We should thank Him for it. Something else is we learn humility through our trials. You know, we're never more like the devil than when we're proud and sometimes God needs to humble us. Christ was meek and humble and that's what it means to be Christlike. And it's often in our trials we realize our pride, and the trials sometimes bring us to our knees. Deuteronomy 8:3: "So He humbled you. He allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna that you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man doesn't live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." They went through trials, they got hungry in the wilderness, they got thirsty, before they could really appreciate the blessings.

Someone said that embrace what humbles you. If you're going through some humbling situation, if someone's got some criticism for you, take it in, listen, evaluate it, say, "Well, thank you for that." And it's so much easier if you humble yourself and you learn from these things. Ezra 8:21: "Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Avala that we might humble ourselves before our God." Matthew 26, verse 75. Remember Peter before the trial of Christ, He said, "This night, you're all going to forsake Me," and Peter jumped up and said, "Though all these forsake You, I will not forsake You." And Jesus said, "Peter, you don't know yourself very well. Before the rooster crows two times, you will deny Me three times." And he needed to go through a very humbling experience of seeing Christ being beaten in the judgment hall and then looking at him, and he went out and he wept bitterly and he realized, "I don't know myself very well. I'm not as strong as I thought I was."

When we were in Australia, we're standing at the table afterward, and we're shaking hands with all these young people that came to the AYC meeting and this young man wearing one of the Australian hats, oh, he may have been 16 years old. He came up and he said, "Can I arm wrestle you?" And I thought, "Well, that's a strange request." And he had his buddies around him. They were all saying, "No, no, don't arm wrestle him." And I thought, you know, I like to engage with the kids. And so I said, "All right. Well," I said, "Wait a second, let me feel your muscles. Come here for a second." Because the last thing you want to do is get beat by a 16-year-old, right? So I felt his muscles. Man, they're hard as rocks. So I said, "No, arm wrestle Pastor Ross."

So--but then I thought about it again. I said, "Okay, come on." He really wanted to arm wrestle me. Man, I put everything I had into trying to just keep my arm up, and finally, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak and he put my arm down. This kid was tough. And I should have known. When they--when they ask you that it's because it's a set-up. You know, whenever someone comes to you and says, "Hey, I got a bet for you," don't bet. And you know, I thought, "That kind of hurt my pride a little bit. This kid beat me arm wrestle." And I thought, "Well, that's probably good for you, Doug." And you got to embrace what humbles you. And the Lord is always trying to teach us through these things. God allows trials and we can turn them into triumph is get our priorities straight.

You remember the story, Genesis 22. God says to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son who you love, bring him to the mountains and offer him to Me." And Abraham said, "Oh yeah, Lord, I love You with all of my heart, my soul, my strength, but I've been waiting for a son for a long time and I really love Isaac." You notice how God worded? He said, "Take your son, your only son who you love." Do you love him more than Me? "And offer him." And Abraham, as we know, passed the test. He was willing to give up the thing on Earth he loved the most because he loved God more.

If there's anything on Earth that you love more than God, you're going to find that'll be the point of testing at some time. God is going to have to teach us to let go of it and to get our priorities right, of seeking first His kingdom. You know, Jethro went through a similar challenge. He made sort of a reckless vow. He said, "Lord, give me victory in this battle and whatever comes through my gates when I come home," he thought it was going to be his goat or sheep or his family cow that would come out to meet him. His daughter came out. He said, "I'll offer it to You." He had one child, that was his daughter. God said, "Did you mean it?" And he did, but he didn't offer her as a burnt offering. He sent her to the temple and she was dedicated to the Lord, never got married, and something like Anna in the New Testament, but it was a test to prioritize.

Psalm 11, verse 5, the Lord tests the righteous. And when you're going through these trials, they often get you on your knees and it will test your prayer life. Do not make an idol of anything or anyone or it will be the source of a test.

Point number four: God allows us to go through tests and you can turn your trials to triumph. They come to separate us from sin. God wants to save us from sin. And sometimes if you want to separate the dross from the gold or the silver, you've got to heat it up and we go through these fiery trials. Peter said, "Do not be amazed as though some strange thing has happened unto you that--but know that the testing of your faith is more precious than gold or silver, that though it is tried in the fire, it comes forth sparkling and pure because it's been through that trial." 1 Peter 4, verse 1 and 2: "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourself also with the same mind for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin."

Now, that doesn't mean you flog yourself so you can cease from sin. But it's often true that when we realize the consequences of sin, it helps us gain the victory and sometimes we will struggle and suffer and it's giving us the power and the victory to prioritize that He might save us from our sins. Hebrews 12, verse 10: "For they," our earthly parents, "might chasten us indeed for a few days as seemed best to them. But for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness."

Why do we go through chastening? "That we might be partakers of His holiness," to be like Jesus. So often, the trials that you go through, you may be going through trials in relationships. And you say, "Oh, this person is unbearable. How can I live with them anymore?" And they may be a member of your family or your spouse. Well, the Lord loves you in spite of your sin. And He's teaching you to love and He's teaching you to forgive and He's teaching you to be like Jesus through the trials in the relationships. It is easy to love lovable people. Anyone can do it. It's a little more challenging to love them when they're not lovable, amen?

And then my final point this morning is God sometimes allows us to go through trials simply to wake us up. He's just plain old got to get our attention. And everything is cruising along and we might be living in this Laodicean self-deception and we think everything is okey-dokey, and it's inky-stinky and we don't know it. We think we're rich and increased with goods and don't know that we have need of anything. We don't know that God sees us as poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked, and we're sleeping on our way to destruction.

You know the story of Peter in prison and he was chained between two guards, Acts chapter 12, and he's going to be executed the next day. He's sleeping on his way to execution, like Jonah, sleeping before he's about to be thrown overboard, sleeping through the storm. It describes many in the last days. Like the ten virgins asleep at that critical moment before the bridegroom comes, and God needs to wake us up. Acts 12:7: "And behold the angel of the Lord stood by him and light shone in the prison and he struck Peter on the side."

So, you might be struck and you think, "Why did that happen?" But you know, if it's an angel, it could be a strike of mercy, to save you. The Bible says in the end of this chapter, "The angel of the Lord struck Herod and he died." You got two different ways. Herod had turned from God. He was struck by the angel, it killed him. He was eaten by worms. Peter, on the other hand, he wanted to serve the Lord. The angel struck him in mercy to wake him up and get him out of prison, to save him from his sins. Sometimes God has to do something radical to get our attention.

I don't know if anyone here is old enough to remember: They used to have an advertising campaign for Mennen aftershave. And I just remember one commercial, in particular, where this pilot falls asleep at the controls and the plane is in a nosedive and it's heading for the ground. And the co-pilot sees that the pilot has gone to sleep and he splashes some Mennen aftershave on his hands and he smacks him, and he shakes himself awake and he goes, "Thanks. I needed that." We thought it was great, to wake us up. And sometimes we need to say, "Lord, thanks. I needed that," to get our attention. He wants to wake us up to save us.

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