The prayer theme for this week in our “40 Day Prayer and Fasting” season is on the topic of Trials and Tribulations. Never a topic to be zealously researched it is, nonetheless, a theme in both Old and New Testaments. This week, as we briefly explore this subject, let us approach it not as a topic to be avoided but as a topic to be embraced for what it can impart.
What might this topic ever hope to impart? For one thing, it reminds us that the Christian life is not constantly and perennially one of health, wealth, bliss and solitude for there are times when all of us face deep challenge, unfathomable obstacles, turmoil, and even failure. We seek the former, but occasionally we are visited by the latter. Sometimes the latter arrives because we, or others, made mistakes, but more often than not, they arrive with little hint of their tumultuous impact.
So, how do we handle “trials and tribulations” when they arrive? The answer to this lies predominately in the past, that is, it is downright difficult for us to all of a sudden turn on great faith, mighty steadfastness, trust in the Lord, and the like, as if it were some kind of switch to merely flick when it arrived. In truth, handling the present in a positive way draws inextricably from our positive “investment” in the past.
A most appropriate example is the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25. 1-13). At the end of this story 5 virgins were faced with a dilemma. They needed a hefty volume of oil in their lamps to both ignite and maintain the flame. The trouble was, they had not “invested” in the past by storing up oil in their lamps. Now that they needed it, it was too late to drum up, or go and get, the life-saving oil that they desperately needed.
The same wisdom applies to handling the “trials and tribulations” of our lives, be they health issues, financial problems, relational difficulties, bullying in the workforce, rebellious children, or any general hardship we are facing. In short, we if don’t continually build up our lives (through studying the Word, focusing on Prayer, coming to Church, fellowshipping with others, having devotional times with the Lord, family altars, etc), and continually build a life of faith, trust and dependency (the Oil) in our lives, we will find ourselves grasping for a strength we simply do not have on the day we need it.
It’s not too late to start. Our tomorrows will come, and some tough times with them, but will we have invested enough “oil in our lamps” to strive, survive, and even thrive? As Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (John 16.33).