Ordeals are to Drive Us to God, Not to Sin

Ordeals are to Drive Us to God, Not to Sin

Preacher Huijun - 6 February 2021

Weekend Devotion: Ordeals are to Drive Us to God, Not to Sin

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We all hate to face troubles in life. They are frustrating and agonizing. And often, during trials and ordeals, people tend to fall into a deep sense of self-pity, which may in turn lead them to justify that it is alright for them to indulge in certain sins to relieve themselves, such as through unrestrained grumbling, blaming others and God for their predicament, or giving in to lust to soothe their stress or misery. They feel God should understand why they are being a bit loose to gratify their desires, as life is too hard for them. Now, this is a very dangerous mindset.

 

Our ordeals should not be the basis to justify our sins.

Ordeals can mean different things to different people. To some, it is the ordeal of being out of job and having not enough money; to some, it is sickness; to others, it may be severe fatigue leading to depressive mood; to still others, it could be the sense of loneliness, etc. Difficult situations have a way of inducing people to sin. For example, when some people lack money, they resort to dishonesty or improper ways to make quick bucks. Or when some people are too stressed up or lonely, they turn to lustful sexual relations for relief. When there are many fires to fight in the workplace, people start to grumble and lose the ability to give thanks, and everyone ends up only defending themselves but not caring for others.

Even in a pandemic like now, we see how people’s sins are being surfaced. Some people’s selfishness was exposed during scarcity; when there were not enough supplies, they snatched up things in the supermarket without considering the needs of others. When vaccines are available now, richer countries quickly snatch them up with lesser concern for poorer nations. There were also people who stole government financial vouchers meant for the needy. I even read about people committing adultery during the pandemic. We cannot deny that ordeals and troubles in life can induce people to sin. But must it be the case? Can our pain and suffering justify our sins? No doubt, there is the temptation to let loose, gratify ourselves and sin when things are difficult. But we cannot simply say we are innocent, or we are forced by circumstances to sin. For many people in the same situation may not sin too.

In the Bible, there are negative examples of people who sinned when they faced crisis, but there are also those who passed the test and did not sin even during the worst ordeals. Let’s take a look at:

 

Bad example: Saul.

<1 Samuel 13> 5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore… 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 …Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

When crisis struck, Saul in his anxiety thought that it was alright to defy the Lord’s order as he rationalized that he had an urgent situation at hand to deal with. However, that resulted in him losing his kingdom.

 

The good example of Job.

But there was another person who did not sin even in the worst ordeals of his life. And he was Job. When he lost all his children, sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys all on the same day <Job 1>, the Bible says that Job did not sin despite these.

<Job 1> 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Thus, it is possible that we do not sin, even if we seem to have the excuse to, when life hits us hard. In this pandemic, we really need to guard our hearts. There are temptations to blame God; to be impatient and take things into our own hands, rather than trust God to provide help in His good time; there is temptation to turn to God-displeasing ways to make money; etc. Yes, there are tensions in life, but God’s word keeps telling us: in our busyness, do not sin, in our anger, do not sin, in our misery, do not sin, in our financial lack, do not sin, in our sickness, do not sin, etc. There is no excuse, a sin is a sin, and we must turn away from every sin. Our circumstances do not give us the license to sin.

 

Ordeals are opportunities for us to cling closer to God and trust Him more.

This is exactly what David did during his many trials. And that was why he was such a blessed person. From the psalms he wrote, we can get a glimpse into David’s heart.

 

<Psalm 4> (ESV)

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

4 Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. 
5 Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

 

<Psalm 25> (NIV)

15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.

 

Although David faced many trials in his life and had many enemies, he was careful not to sin in the midst of these. And he found relief before his trials were even over, because he trusted in God, and his assurance was in the Lord, not in outward circumstances. In the end, God also proved Himself faithful to David. Likewise, God wants us to trust and obey Him even in our own ordeals. In our trials, we need to remember that God cares for us, especially in moments of our needs. When Jesus was on earth, He healed the sick, helped the poor, saved the demon-possessed, and eventually He met the greatest need of mankind, which is the forgiveness of their sins through His death and resurrection. God wants to be there for us in our ordeals, and He wants to help us, though it is in His ways, not ours. Even if He may not answer our prayers the way we want it, He will bring about His perfect will in the end.

Brothers and sisters, trials are times in which we need God the most. May the ordeals in our lives not drive us to sin, but to the loving God who wants to help us.

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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