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3 Ways Faith Reveals Purpose in Trials Without Removing Them

If God loves me so much, why am I always struggling?

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated May 14, 2024
3 Ways Faith Reveals Purpose in Trials Without Removing Them

“Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” - 1 John 5:4-5

Many people today have a mistaken view of the Christian life. Some believe that faith in Jesus will make all the problems and ills of the world disappear.   Faith, it is believed, opens us to a life of unrestricted blessedness, a life where God’s power makes us “healthy, wealthy, and proud.” Unfortunately, our Lord himself betrays such a sentiment.   In fact, Jesus makes it clear to all his followers that “in this world you have trouble” (John 16:33). Just as the world rejected the Lord, so too, we can expect that the world will reject us. As one person expressed to me the other day, 

“If God loves me so much, why am I always struggling?” 

Have you experienced this? Have you ever asked a similar question? The sufferings that Christians naturally endure in the world, however, are only part of the story. The good news is that we never enter the troubles of life alone. Jesus continues his lesson by saying, “Take heart; I have overcome the world.”  Disciples of Jesus stand victorious over the things of life. 

How does faith speak victory over the things of the world, particularly in those times when the world presses hard against us? Below are three things to consider.

1. Christ's Strength Fuels Our Victory in Adversity.

Faith doesn’t stop troubles from occurring in our lives. Similarly, overcoming the world does not involve separation from the world. Like Paul, we are called, at times, to suffer for Christ. Yet we can still claim victory over the world because in Jesus we have access to a strength, a peace, and a reliance that is deeper than anything in the world. We overcome all things because we walk into any situation connected to the one who is lord of life and death. Jesus is above all things, and thus he strengthens us whether we are abased or abound, whether we have much or are in need. Christ’s strength buoys us, and it is his strength that gives us victory over all things.   As Paul reminds us, 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -  Philippians 4:13

Many people interpret this verse to suggest that Christ’s strength overcomes everything problematic and troublesome. In Christ, it is believed that we might yield the strength of the Lord, thereby dismantling the world’s power. But such an interpretation is contrary to the witness of scripture, and Paul’s own experience. In fact, just prior to Paul’s statement, Paul describes his experience of hardship. He notes, 

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” - Philippians 4:11-12 

In fact, Paul’s point is precisely that his faith in Christ did not remove him from the difficulties of the world. 

Paul knew intimately what it meant to suffer for Christ. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes being beaten, shipwrecked, hungry, naked, and cold (2 Corinthians 11:5-29). These were situations that his faith led him into, and yet, despite these experiences, Paul maintained a deep connection to Christ, and it was that connection that sustained him. Rather than allowing us to escape the struggles of life, the strength of Christ allows us to endure the world around us. Just as Christ endured the cross, his strength provides what we need to endure whatever it is we face.

2. Following Jesus Means Winning Through Surrender.

Our victory over the world is not based on our own ability or prowess. Instead, it is rooted in our connection to Jesus. Christians overcome the world only insofar as Jesus overcomes the world. We participate in Christ’s victory.

Christ’s victory, however, does not occur in worldly fashion. Jesus supplants worldly power, not by being a mightier ruler or wielding more power, but by sacrificing himself on the cross. Jesus 

“Did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; but he made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on the cross!” - Philippians 2:6-8

The cross is the symbol of Christ’s power and his victory over the world.

In a similar way, our victory over the world occurs through our connection to the cross. Just as Christ was victorious over the world through an act of self-giving, so too, our victory over the world occurs through our willingness to take up the cross. Jesus says, 

“if anyone would be my disciple, let them take up their cross daily and follow me” - Luke 9:23

We must always remember that the cross, for the original disciples, was an image of death and worldly rejection. Thus, by calling the disciples to take up the cross, Jesus was telling the disciples they must be ready to die. Jesus tells them plainly, “They will put you out of the synagogue, in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you with think they are offering a service to God” (John 16:2). 

Faith provides a victory because Christ’s power is made manifest in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

The Lord’s power is released in the places of weakness, humility, and self-offering. Thus, our willingness to take up the cross speaks to the legitimacy of Christian faith, and the reality of Christ’s Lordship over all things. 

3. Christ's Authoritative Words Shape Our Victory and Faith.

As Christians, we believe that Christ’s words are authoritative in our lives. We can rely on his promises and trust his declarations. The promise of forgiveness, sustained and eternal despite the struggles of life, gives us confidence to face the temptations of the world. His bestowal of peace gives us hope amid trials and his declaration that 

“My grace is sufficient for you.” - 2 Corinthians 12:9

Jesus reminds us of His power in times of weakness. Jesus’ proclamations are not mere emotional pick-me-ups but declarations of fundamental truths for our lives. In Christ, we are surrounded by the blessing of God and all the strength that comes from his word. 

Yet more than merely trusting the promises of Christ, the victory of our faith can be found in Christ’s authority over the things of the world. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is continually seen to be in command over all things in heaven and earth. He speaks, and the wind abates; he commands, and demons flee. Furthermore, Jesus overcomes all the wiles of the Devil. Matthew records how Jesus defeats the temptations of Satan, saying, “Be gone Satan! It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). Jesus' words carry supreme authority.

Ultimately, our faith overcomes the world because, in the end, Christ's declaration of heavenly rule has the last and final word. On the cross, as Jesus declares his victory, Jesus says, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The cross is the definitive moment by which the world is judged, and the ruler of the world is cast out (John 12:31).

Our victory over the word is not just something that we say, it is something that the Lord declares. And in his word, we trust.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Prostock-Studio

SWN authorThe Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.  He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.comibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.  He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca.  He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.

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