Why does God allow us to go through trials and tribulations? – GotQuestions

Question: “Why does God allow us to go through trials and tribulations?”


Answer: 
One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.

Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).

Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Recommended Resource: When God Doesn’t Make Sense: Holding On to Your Faith During the Hardest Times by James Dobson

Credit: got questions.org

Should Parents Let their  Children Believe in Santa Claus? 

The following was originally posted on Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig.

Question

Dear Dr Craig, 

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As the Christmas season is upon us, I’d be interested to hear your wisdom regarding Christian families celebrating the Santa Claus tradition. To be more precise, do you think it’s consistent with Christian values to pretend that Santa is real? 

As a parent of two young children this is particularly relevant to me at the moment. On one hand we recognise that as a Christian family, we always want Jesus to be at the centre of the Christmas celebration. We also highly value telling our children the truth in all things. But I also can see a place for fantasy and make believe and see the fun and joy that this can bring to a family. 

While it almost sounds like a trivial issue, living in a post-Christian, highly secularised culture where Santa Claus is almost revered as a sacred childhood tradition, abandoning this tradition could potentially cause quite a lot of friction with our non-Christian family. Then again, it could also have the potential to be a strong witness for the importance of Jesus in our lives. 

Thank you for all the work you do serving Christ through your academic work. I hope you can spare the time to address this not-quite-as-apologetically-relevant question. 

Merry Christmas to you and the Reasonable Faith team! 

Best wishes, 

Dan 
Australia 

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Dr. Craig responds

I’m glad you’re thinking seriously about this matter, Dan. The decision on the part of Christian parents about what to tell their children about Santa Claus is, I think, potentially very consequential and therefore important. Whatever you decide, your decision needs to be a thoughtful one, not one thoughtlessly taken. 

On the one hand, the replacement of Jesus Christ at Christmas by Santa Claus is a sacrilege. Santa Claus is obviously a sort of God-surrogate: an all-seeing person endowed with miraculous powers, who’s making a list and checking it twice in order to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good, for goodness’ sake!” But never fear: Santa Claus is a kindly old man with a long white beard who never judges that someone has been bad. No matter what you’ve done, he thinks you’re good and delivers the presents. Such a caricature of God is so perverse that one wonders how Christian parents could possibly allow their children to believe in such a being. Christmas, as the word suggests, is supposed to be about Christ, not about this imposter. 

On the other hand, who wants to be an old Scrooge, spoiling all the fun and dampening the festiveness of Christmas? Poems like “The Night before Christmas” are so much fun to read to your children. Isn’t there some way to reach an accommodation? 

I think there is. Saint Nicholas was a historical figure, an early church bishop. We can teach our children about who he was and explain how people like to make-believe that he comes and brings children presents today at Christmas time. Children love to make-believe, and so you can invite them to join in this game of make-believe with you. When you see a Santa at the shopping mall, say, “Look, there’s a man dressed up like Saint Nicholas! People pretend that he is Saint Nicholas. Would you like to tell him what you want for Christmas?” 

Jan and I found that this strategy worked well with our children. Moreover, in Belgium, where they were raised, Saint Nicholas Day is actually a day distinct from Christmas, which helps to preserve the integrity and meaning of Christmas. Saint Nicholas (or Père Noël) brings the children presents around December 5, as I recall, not on Christmas morning. This separation of the days worked beautifully for our family. The tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning was too strong a tradition to give up, but what we did on Saint Nicholas Day was put out Belgian chocolates for the children which we made-believe were delivered by Saint Nicholas. Then Christmas was the day we celebrated Jesus’ birthday. I’d suggest doing the same. 

I strongly believe that Christian parents should not lie to their children about the existence of a supernatural, all-knowing being who is watching them and holding them morally accountable. Once they find out that you have lied to them about Santa’s existence, how can doubts not also arise that you have been wrong as well in telling them that God exists? Maybe the whole Christmas story is a myth which thinking adults should outgrow. In fact, I’ve heard ignorant atheists actually comparing God to Santa Claus and saying that there is no more evidence of God’s existence than Santa’s. In lying to your children about Santa Claus, you may be setting them up for fall. 

We need therefore to teach our children about the historical credibility of the Gospels and help them to see the stark differences between stories of Santa Claus and the biographies of Jesus of Nazareth. Just as we acquaint them with the historical Saint Nicholas, so we also need to acquaint them with the historical Jesus. In fact, just as we share with them how myths have built up around the historical Saint Nicholas, we can share with them how Christmas myths like the three kings or the drummer boy or Jesus’ being born on December 25 “in the bleak midwinter” have built up round Jesus. They will have a stronger, more durable faith as a result. 

There is one caution, however. You should let your children know that many other children actually do believe in Santa Claus, and that it’s not their job to inform them otherwise. That’s between them and their parents. My daughter said that our policy of telling the children Santa is make-believe led to “some interesting conversations” at school with children who said that Père Noël exists. “No, he doesn’t!” Oops! I find it rather ironic that it was our children who were the free-thinkers and sceptics when it came to Santa Claus. Best to tell your children that while we know Santa is a just a fun, make-believe figure, they shouldn’t upset other parents who haven’t been so honest with their children as we have. 

Comments are welcomed below or forwarded via bstudies.nupsg@gmail.com

AQS – #2 Tricky Questions

Answering Questions Series #2
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In this series, another set of questions posed to Bible teachers or study leaders will be discussed. We will term them as tricky questions.

Tricky questions mostly have the motive of either trapping the teacher in his words, or the enquirer seeking a way to justify his/her self-righteousness or unrighteousness. Jesus was one major target of tricky questions.

Eg; The woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-6), issue of paying tax to Caesar (Matt 27:17-21), issues on Sabbaths and Jewish rituals.

All of the above and more sought to put Jesus in a corner or trick Him with His own words. Other instances, men sought to justify themselves by asking certain questions. The key to answering tricky questions is WISDOM from God’s Holy Spirit. It takes God’s Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden motives in men’s hearts and to answer with wisdom that cannot be refuted. James advices that we ask God for wisdom, because he gives it freely without partiality (James 1:5)

Some modern day tricky questions include
-If we are saved by faith and not works, then my works do not matter, do they?
-Faith alone cannot save, your works must also count, right?
-Why would an all loving God allow such evil in this world? It’s either He is weak, or He simply doesn’t exist or?
-What is wrong with kissing? The Bible even says we should greet each other with a holy kiss.

In the examples stated above, teachers are advised to look beyond the question and probe into the hidden motive for asking such a question. Let us not tread on the edges of the temptation that all those out to ask tricky questions have “evil motives”. Some may simply not know the motives in their heart and God may shine light on their hearts through the wisdom He will speak through you.
First and foremost, we are saved by GRACE (Eph 2:8) , faith is just the medium or pipe through which grace flows to us. Faith in itself does not safe, neither works. One who downplays the power of grace to save through faith in Christ may seek to justify his self-righteousness, and one who downplays the power grace has to produce “good works” through faith , may simply seek to continue living a passive life and claim a “grace” he may not really understand. Genuine faith in Christ has the power and potency to transform lives positively through the grace He gives.

With the problem of evil, God is not the creator of evil because He is the “Ultimate Good” (Matt 19:17). “Evil” actually exists because of the existence of God. If there was no God, no one can have a standard to say “this is right” or “this is wrong”. Who set the standard? God, and because standards have been set, free moral beings with free will (men) can CHOOSE to deviate from it. God has a solution for evil (Jesus Christ), and Peter advises us not to take God’s slackness in judgment as weakness but rather as His patience, not desiring that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9). Think about it, the real evil is in the “hearts of men” (YOU and ME) . If God really wants to “deal” with evil, He would simply wipe out humanity. It would also be on a good note to make the one posing the question realise the problem has never been with God, but rather with men. Christ is the first step in solving the problem of evil, and that step, God has taken.

-Kissing the cheek and feet as a form of greeting and respect was a culture in ancient Bible times and even in some middle eastern parts of our world today. The issue is really not about the kissing, but about LUST and sexual gratification outside the recognized union of MARRIAGE. If you can kiss or fondle someone you aren’t married to without having any emotion of LUST (which is highly impossible), then go ahead. But if the act may lead on to something graver and may stir lust in you, don’t start in the first place, you may only end up seeking to justify your wrong.

Comments are very much welcome.

To be continued…

AQS – #1 Logical Impossibilities

Answering Questions Series
#1
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One major challenge teachers face all over the world is the challenge of answering questions.

Jesus faced it several times, and as bible study leaders and teachers, we face this challenge too.

One type of challenging questions we would highlight are what are termed logical impossibilities

Examples are:
-“Can God do wrong?”
-“Can a man believe in Jesus and not be saved?”
-“Can a man have an intimate relationship with Christ and not be transformed ?
-“Will the devil ever be saved?”

Such questions are termed logical impossibilities because to ask such a question in itself is to defy logical reasoning.

For example, to ask if a circle has sides like a square OR to ask if you can cut down a tree and it will still be standing OR can a mango seed germinate into a tomato plant?

In such cases, teachers need not ‘scratch their heads‘ to look for ‘loose ends‘ or ‘loop holes‘ in the answers they already know.

It is best to bring out the logical error in the person’s question and ask for a rephrasing if the person so pleases.

Eg: God is the Ultimate Good. He is the never changing and unerring ‘standard’ of the cosmos. To ask if God can be wrong is to ask if a metre rule can be measured out and found to be half a metre. Impossible! A metre rule is one metre, where ever and how ever you measure it. It can never be any more or less a metre (if it changes not) … so the question is a logical impossibility.

Again, to ask if a man can believe in Jesus and not be saved is a violation of scripture (He who believes in Him shall be saved).

Do not bother finding out meanings of the word ‘believe‘ or ‘saved’, etc. They are basic English words well understood.

To seek loop holes in the TRUTH in a sense is to doubt the truth. Truth is true, even though you can convince yourself otherwise, it still won’t make it false.

Realising questions that are logical impossibilities helps Bible teachers/study leaders answer certain questions with more ease and humility by letting the one making the enquiry realise what he/she seeks to find out about simply cannot be.

In all things, let God’s Holy Spirit be our guide and giver of wisdom, because logic is the result of God’s reasoning and not a creation/fabrication of man to try to explain an unknown world. 🙂

The series continues another time…