Sunday, 24 March 2013

Trials and Tribulations

It’s certain that all of us at some time in our lives will have trials and tribulations, that we will go through things that we wouldn’t choose and that make us feel miserable or just under pressure.  I write about this because at this time I am going through some trials of my own.  I feel somehow that through them, God is trying to draw me closer to Him.  I have had a serious cold with flu like symptoms and on top of it all I had a painful cough too; no fun at all and frankly I could have done without it.  On top of this, I fell foul of officialdom and struggled to sort things out while I wasn’t at all well.  At the same time, I am waiting for a breakthrough in my Christian life and have been praying to God for many months now for spiritual help and guidance in my life.  It seems I am either suffering or waiting; and sometimes both.  It’s absolutely certain that no one likes to suffer, and few of us like waiting for things; we want everything to be good and we want what we want right now.  But God, I think, has other plans.  My brothers, consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon you, for you well know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed, complete, not deficient in any way.  (James 1:2-4 NJB)



I have written about class and social injustice for a long time, and posted many of the posts on my blog.  I feel that God does not want us ever to act unjustly to other people, nor to exploit other people ruthlessly or to simply disregard other people and their wants and needs.  At the same time, I admit that I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’ about it all.  From time to time, I feel it is necessary to debate such issues, but if we do too much, or take too much on, we can become jaded with it all, and it can become like an albatross around our necks so to speak.   It has become a stronghold, and goodness knows, I have enough of them already to deal with!  I have anger issues, because I was bullied at school, and I have issues with people disagreeing with me, because I am (or certainly was) very opinionated at times.  I believe that anger is very much a stronghold, and even if we think we have a good reason to be angry with another person, or just to be angry in general, it can make us miserable and sometimes we can become the person we don’t want to be.  I also have had a problem with women too, as I think many men do, but equally even if we have a good reason to be angry or upset, we can make more problems for ourselves by indulging our anger or our hatred or even our self-righteousness.  Strongholds can also be from a root of bitterness, and I confess that at times I have been a bitter person.  Strongholds and a root of bitterness do not make good Christians, in fact it can send us off on a tangent, away from God and into our own selfishness and self-importance.  For although we are human, it is not by human methods that we do battle.  The weapons with which we do battle are not those of human nature, but they have the power, in God's cause, to demolish fortresses. It is ideas that we demolish, every presumptuous notion that is set up against the knowledge of God, and we bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NJB)  Not only can we develop strongholds, we can become like a stronghold, aloof, proud, lacking in decency and wanting to keep everyone at arm’s length, especially if we have been hurt by people in the past for one reason or another.  We have to take a chance on love, we have to be willing to be vulnerable even if that means that sometimes people hurt us, or take us for granted or otherwise let us down in some way.


The Christian Right

I have been reading a book called ‘American Fascists’ by a writer called Chris Hedges.  It talks about the way some Christianity in the United States has been hijacked by certain people and combined with very Right-wing politics and the belief in unfettered capitalism.  He writes earnestly about that he fears that such ideology will take over America and challenge America’s long standing traditions of liberty, freedom, free speech and the desire to live any way any American may choose.  After reading some of the book, I have come to believe that we cannot link Christianity with any worldly and temporal thing.  Even though my view is that genuine Christianity, the faith lived out on a daily basis, has far more in common with Left-wing politics and Socialism, I still don’t feel that we should particularly link the two things together.  In short, our faith as Christians must come first.  I confess that I am a Left-winger and have always been so from an early age, and don’t feel that my faith is compromised by my political stance.  In the final analysis though, I am a Christian first and everything else second.  I believe this is the way God wants me to be.  So, I too am suspicious of the Christian Right, and I wonder what their agenda is and what their aims truly are.  Perhaps we will have to wait and see.


The Great and the Good

We have just seen a new pope elected, and so far there is a good vibe about him.  He is it seems a man of the people and lived simply and frugally in Argentina when he was a cardinal and eschewed the trappings of high office.  I’m not a Catholic so don’t have strong opinions either way, but by and large it seems they may have made the right choice.  I may add one caveat; one of the problems I have with anyone born to or gaining high office of some kind, is that somehow we assume that they will have the answers to all the world's problems, or suddenly they will be able to solve all the world’s problems.  It is, of course, wishful thinking.  Many of the faithful seem to invest all their hopes in a new pope, and in England just look at the way some royalists regard Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles; they are treated, along with some other royals, almost as if they are gods and everything they say is of the utmost importance and is filled with significance and meaning.  But, you know, at the end of the day, they are only human beings and they don’t have all the answers however much we wished they did.  As a Christian, I look to Jesus for guidance and He has all the answers we need.  Yes a good pope or a good queen is a blessing to the world, but they are not divine after all.


  1. Hi Tim,
    I really liked reading this post and feel that through it I understand a little more of how you think. It is good to be a little transparent sometimes, after all 'transparency' is simply honesty about who you are and how you feel, and I know in my own life it is when I have admitted to myself what is actually bothering me that God has brought me to be able to deal with the issue in His way. What we experience in this world has already been experienced by Jesus and He is able to free us from the hurt and anger that it might produce in us and open our eyes to the reality of the spiritual battle that is raging in this world. I am not sure whether I am right wing or left wing as far as politics is concerned, but I have found that the safest place to be is 'under the wing'. Lovely post.

    1. Thank you Brenda. I know that I have a number of issues that God needs to help me out with; I pray about it daily and earnestly. I'm not particularly and aggressive person but I do have anger issues. I am beginning to see that all politics can do is divide people up, and in some ways politics has taken the place of religion. Yes, 'under the wing' is the best place of all.

  2. I have found that praying about anger I feel towards someone helps greatly. First I start out sort of telling God all this person did to deserve my anger, and then in the end...sometimes after several prayers and days...God has me seeing everything differently. And feeling where the other person was coming from. And truly praying FOR them.

    As an American, and as a Christian, I tend to lean hard to the right on politics. Mostly because the left has been hijacked by people who want to purpose and pass legislation that makes legal things that God says are not. ie, gay marriage, abortion, etc. But I am aware that many in the right support themselves and thier profits more than the constitution or bill of rights. Suppose it comes down to a lesser of two evils and praying God will open the eyes of all in authority to the Truth.

    1. Yes I agree Barbara, praying is absolutely vital. I have been on the receiving end many times of people's aggression and anger and malice, that all I can really do is forgive and forget and move on. I know God does not want any of His children to live in anger and resentment, because in the end even if you or I have a good reason for being angry, it only eats the person up who bears the grudge.

      There are certain aspects of Right-wing politics that I have no problem with, when it's linked to people's freedom to prosper, allowing people to live any way they want and so on. It's when it is abused, when very rich people abuse power, don't pay even token amounts of tax, and ruthlessly exploit others by paying low wages, so making themselves even richer, and then proclaiming the 'religious' card, that somehow says whatever a person does 'in the name of Jesus' is alright. As you say, the Left has also been hijacked, and if this means an excuse to push through ungodly things and ideas, then I have no sympathy for this either. It seems to me that there are genuine people in all wings of politics, and there are those who use politics, and religion, and many other things, to further their own selfish ends. Yes, often in this life it does come down to the lesser of two evils. Thank you for the comment. I love your blog by the way!

  3. Hi Tim,
    First, let me say that it's good to have you back, having missed your post last week. I hope too, that you have recovered from the flu that had put you down.
    And thanks for your honesty in sharing your feelings, particularly about anger, as I too get angry, even with God, as I prepare to face the day cleaning windows on a bitterly cold day while at the same time watch a neighbour dressed in a suit as he climbs into his car for a short drive to the office.
    I also tend to be neutral in political issues, as I see some good in both capitalist and socialist issues. For example, it is good for a guy to work hard and to save and invest. But it is also bad to watch bankers receiving massive bonuses while the less well off struggle to pay his bills.
    An excellent post.

    1. Thanks Frank; I'm feeling a lot better and it really did knock me for six.

      Yes, I sometimes get angry with God too. But I think He is big and tough enough to take on our misgivings from time to time. God willing, He will make all our lives easier.

      Yes, although I am a bit of Left-winger, I am not a hard Left kind of person, nor dream of a Communist utopia either, as it didn't really work in practise did it? Like you, I see good bits in capitalism and socialism. If only we could marry the best bits of both systems, and get rid of the worst bits and make a system that worked for the majority of people. Yes I worry about money too, and the unfair way it is distributed throughout the human race. If we as Christians pray for our needs to be met, He will always meet that need.

  4. By the way, I had to laugh at the cartoon posted above. Nice work!

    1. I am glad you liked it Frank, it was meant to amuse!

  5. Tim I to have been going through trials, many of them involving old thing's that have passed away, old habits. I have prayed to God and He has delivered me from them. It is His strength during my weakness that I am so grateful and give Him the glory and the praise for.

    I never really had a rage problem or an anger problem too much but there were times when I would flip out after letting things build up. I came across a scripture in Proverbs that speaks about that and it's been on my mind all week, "The beginning of strife is like releasing water. Therefore stop contetion before a quarrel starts." Proverbs 17:14. It's true how when we get angry or someone makes us upset and we know better we somehow still get roped into a dispute with them, just yesterday afternoon my neighbor tried to trick my brother about the sael fo some shoes and I went and tried to sort out the whole matter when he came to my house asking about it. As I was trying to explain to the neighbor that he wronged my brother, my neighbor kept going on leaving me with no room to get a word in so I had to try and speak over him and he simply got louder, in the middle of this I knew this was going to become and argument I did not want to be a part of so I could feel myself turn to walk away then the guy also walked away. The enemy is truly busy and he will try to use anything against us to cause us to sin against God. I am glad the Holy Spirit brought to my memory that scripture in proverbs.

    Although we have trail and tribulations and strongholds, I put my faith in God, He is my strong tower and I run into Him.

    1. I think at this time of economic downturn as well, many of us are struggling financially, trying to get our money right, trying very hard to find a job, and trying not to feel dejected all the time like I can do.

      Yes, you did the right thing by walking away from an argument. It's not nice when someone treats you like that, and the natural thing is to want to retaliate(how many fights start like that?). God knows we are all a work in progress. After my illness, I feel not only better physically, but my anger is going away too; and this can only be a good thing hey?! Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your next post.

  6. Hi Tim,
    I am glad to hear you are feeling better!
    Strongholds are called that for the very reason that they are strong! Hard to remove, like a stubborn stain. Persistence in obeying God, repenting each and every time we fall and sin, rebuking the strong hold and praying against it and praying for the covering of the blood of Jesus Christ are what we need to do to remove these.

    James 4:7-10
    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

    This is key in removing the strong holds in our lives. I too have a few of these nasty strongholds and I can say that as I press in to obedience to Christ, I have noticed these strongholds weakening.

    I agree with you that we cannot link Christianity with anything worldly, that is just very wrong. Christianity is separate from the world and it's ways. I have noticed religious systems are trying to make Christianity popular and this mini series 'The Bible' is totally not Biblical at all. :( Yet, people want to make God cool.


    1. Thank you; your kindness is much appreciated. Thank you for the scripture. I have noticed as God has made me aware of the strongholds in my life, that as I have prayed about them, they are diminishing little by little. Yes, we most certainly must humble ourselves before God. Every human wants to be exalted, but God is asking for our humility, to stand before Him unsure and to accept Him into their lives. It is when we see the results of true heartfelt submission before Him, and He blesses us in so many ways, or He just makes our paths smoother, we will know He can work in our lives. It isn't just about miracles and the 'Prosperity Gospel', it is about walking with the Lord, being in tune with what He wants for our lives, and above all else perhaps simply being obedient.

      For me, although I am more to the Left than to the Right, there are aspects of both political stances that appeal to me, and aspects to both that don't appeal to me. What saddens me a little is that often Left wing politics is aligned with secularism, when in Latin America there is Liberation Theology which is Left wing politics combined with Christianity. However, I believe God wants us to be Christians first, and everything else second. There is, as ever, a fine balance to be run; they don't call it the 'Narrow Path' for nothing! ;)