Dr. HL Champion – Editor’s Introduction.
Dr Paul Chappell is the senior pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and president of West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. His biblical vision has led the church to become one of the most dynamic Baptist churches in the nation. He sponsors Daily in the Word, a daily radio broadcast heard on over 450 stations across America. Dr. Chappell has four children who are married and serving in Christian ministry. He has been married to his wife Terrie for thirty-one years.
April 15, 2014 by Paul Chappell
On Sunday, we celebrate the victory of the Resurrection of Christ. We remember His triumph, and we thank God for the hope that brings in our lives on a daily basis.
But remember, there could be no resurrection without the crucifixion. The empty tomb is a powerful reminder of the hope we have in Christ’s victory. But the cross shows us how to bear difficulties until victory comes.
From this Easter to last Easter, perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, faced difficult illness, encountered family challenges, lost your job or your home. In the space of a year, surely every one of us have had times of trial.
During trials, it’s easy to lose perspective. Fear and anxiety can grip our hearts and cause us to lose focus.
And that is why we must look to Christ for an example. Consider Christ’s focus during the last hours before His crucifixion—what we call “the passion of Christ.” In the hours before His death He was in such intense agony of soul that he shed “as it were great drops of blood.” Judas betrayed Him. Peter denied Him. The Pharisees falsely accused Him. And the disciples abandoned him.
Jesus knows suffering. And from His example, we see how to endure trials.
In this two-part post, we’ll see ten truths to remember during trials. Each of these truths we see in Christ’s life in the hours before and during His crucifixion. Each of these can serve as an anchor point for our perspective during difficult times.
Here they are—ten truths to remember during trials:
1. Remember God is in control.
The calmness with which Jesus continued the Passover meal with His disciples just before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane is a lesson in itself. First Corinthians 22:44 tells us He even “gave thanks” as He distributed the elements to His disciples.
And when he had given thanks…—1 Corinthians 11:24
When difficulties enter our lives, we can face them with calm—even grateful—assurance when we remember God is in control.
2. Remember others are learning from you.
Christ could have been consumed with fear of the pain He would soon endure. But He remembered His disciples, and He purposefully seized the moment to teach them the meaning of His crucifixion.
… he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.—1 Corinthians 11:24–25
You and I must likewise remember during times of difficulty that others are watching and learning from us. Spiritual leaders cannot afford the luxury of despair. As Dr. David Gibbs once told me, “Your greatest sermon is you in the valley.”
3. Remember to examine your heart.
Christ never sinned, so this point is more of an application to what we need to do than it is an observation of what He did. But even as Jesus was sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, just before He distributed the bread and the cup, He instigated a moment of heart-examination among the disciples.
And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?— Matthew 26:21–22
To this day, serious Christians take care to examine their hearts before partaking of the Lord’s table.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.— 1 Corinthians 11:28
But we don’t have to wait for the Lord’s Table for this self-examination. Trials themselves are powerful motivators to examine our hearts, confess sin to God, and ask God to cleanse our lives. Don’t get so caught up in the trial that you neglect to let it do a purifying work in your heart.
4. Remember to pray.
From the Upper Room, Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed passionately.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed…And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.—Luke 22:41, 44
Why in our times of greatest need do we neglect the powerful resource of prayer? We have access directly to the throne of grace! We can worry, or we can bring our needs to the One who understands, cares, and helps.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.— Hebrews 4:15–16
5. Remember to surrender to God’s plan.
As Christ drew near to the sufferings of the Cross, He prayed that there might be another way…but even as He did, He submitted to the will of the Father.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.—Luke 22:42
The Father’s plan in Jesus’ suffering was our redemption—I’m glad Jesus surrendered to it.
God has a plan in our suffering too, and that plan is our conformity to the image of Christ.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.—Romans 8:28–29
In the midst of our pain, we sometimes forget that God has a purpose and that He promises to use every aspect of our lives for our good and His glory. Surrender to His plan. As Amy Carmichael once said, “In acceptance lieth peace.”
When we are in times of difficulty, it’s easy to allow our minds to spin out of control. We grasp for solutions as we worry, doubt, and fear the worst.
But Jesus showed us how to suffer:
- Remember God is in control.
- Remember others are learning from you.
- Remember to examine your heart.
- Remember to pray.
- Remember to surrender to God’s plan.