The Bible’s Quick Start Guide to Growing Through Trials
by Steve Bacon
Have you bought a new electronic gadget lately? If it’s been a while, you’d discover you need to make a big adjustment in getting the thing set up because most of these gizmos no longer come with printed instruction manuals. I know you probably never read them anyway and I think that’s part of the reason they’ve been omitted, at least in print form. No, todays gadgets are “smart” gadgets. So providing you can plug the thing into a wall socket and find the power button, you simply follow the onscreen prompts with the remote (or your smartphone) and you’re off. No need for an instruction manual the size of a phone book or Sears catalog. Remember those?
Actually, it’s now common to find one small booklet of printed instructions included in the box called the “Quick Start Guide.” It’s a very basic step-by-step fully illustrated guide designed to build your confidence till the power comes on. Then, just five minutes later, you’re hopelessly lost trying to figure out the menu screen.
The common quick step guide begins:
Step 1: Before plugging in, carefully read all the instructions.
Step 2: Wear proper safety apparatus such as goggles and Kevlar before removing any packaging materials.
Step 3: Do not eat any of the packaging materials or place plastic bags over your head as certain packaging are toxic and must be properly disposed of in recycle containers.
Step 4: Seek help from a teenager to complete the setup of your gizmo.
Now I don’t believe these simplified guidebooks are written in such a way as to insult the customer’s intelligence or prevent lawsuits. No, I think the manufacture wants the product to be accessible to anyone who would choose to purchase it. I believe that is what God had in mind when He put His word into print. It’s intentionally basic right from the beginning.
Creation has order and is a good gift from God. Man is created in His image and is entirely teachable and relational. Obedience brings blessings. Sin a curse. And that is just the first 3 chapters!
Of course, the Bible is not superficial in any way. There is depth beyond languages’ ability to describe it accurately and I think it is intentional in that respect. For instance, when a Christian brother or sister is struggling through a trial, the theological instruction that they’ve learned over the years isn’t usually what they are recalling in the moment. Often, it’s the plain, easy to grasp principles and promises that need to be reaffirmed. Essentially, what they may need for the moment is the quick start guide.
Consider the simplicity of the passages in Romans 5:1-5. I like the New American Standard version here;
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Did you notice that line at the beginning? “We obtain our introduction by faith into this grace…” Other translations often read “we have access by faith…” Either way its speaks of basic entry level understanding of grace by faith enabling us to stand. Stand where? In the midst of trials that are sure to come. But this grace is not just provided so we can endure a beating only to crawl out on the other side.
On the contrary, there is so much value and purpose gained as a disciple passes through affliction. Consider the remainder of the Romans passage:
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
What kind of hope is Paul referring to? The kind that does not disappoint. Meaning it delivers on it’s promise because it rests on the ability of the one making the promise, our Lord, our Master and our teacher.
Jesus Christ gave us plenty of examples of how to endure the worst that the world, the flesh and the devil can throw at us and we don’t have to delve too deep into the well to pull up enough water to sustain us in the heat of affliction.
- Can you quickly call upon scripture during a time of personal affliction?
- Do you feel confident to use scripture as a resource to minister to others in their afflictions?
If not, why? What can you do right now to change that?
- Two valuable Scriptures that pertain to trials are:
Job 5:7 – “As the sparks fly upward, so man is born for trouble.”
Proverbs 24:10 –“If I faint in the day of adversity, my strength is small.”
Since trials are inevitable, how do you prepare for them?
How are you preparing your children?
Has your attitude toward trials or adversity matured over the past year?
What adversity did you face that produced a noticeable change in your trust in God to sustain you?
- If you imagine your knowledge of scripture as a well, and every new thing learned raises the level of water in your well with the purpose of sustaining you during the heat of affliction, how far does your bucket have to drop before it reaches the water?
Is your well low because you rely on outside sources to keep it full for you?
Is there enough to allow others to draw from your well?
- How memorable was your introduction to the grace of God? Have you experienced its ability to sustain you through adversity?
- Read again the passage from Romans 5:1-5. Have you experienced the three-step process of growing the, “hope that does not disappoint” in your walk with the Lord?
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