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Dear COA Family,

What is your view of the troubles that you face in your life?

If you are anything like me, you would want them to be over as soon as possible. In fact, many
people have requested for me to pray that God would heal them of their sickness, deliver them
from a bad situation or simply remove a difficult person from their life, all as soon as possible!

Yet the Bible has a different take on troubles in our lives.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because
you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so
that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4.

In other words, we are not to try to escape troubles but to adopt a different perspective towards
them. We are to thank God for them and trust in God’s strength for us to endure through our
trials. Only then will we grow in our faith and maturity.

The presence of trials and tribulations in our lives should therefore not be something of a surprise
to us, as if a good and loving God would never ever let his children suffer. God our heavenly
Father is ultimately concerned for our greatest good and, if we have to endure discipline to learn
that, he will subject us to trials for our own good.

In fact, we should think of going through tribulations as a normal fact of life, and therefore to be

Why do I say this?

It is because we live in a fallen world. Both moral and physical evil are increasing in intensity all
throughout the world each day. Just check out the daily news headlines for proof of troubles
around the world. We as God’s children are also not exempt from them.

Not only that, we are also guaranteed to face persecutions because we are Christians.

The apostle Paul writes that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer
persecution” (2 Tim 3:12).

So, knowing this, how should we respond?

First and foremost, it is important to know God’s will for us through persecution. God is not trying to
make life difficult for us but to help us trust in him fully. And this is only possible if we come to an
end of our own strength, wisdom and resources.

After experiencing his “thorn in the flesh”, and realising that God will not remove it, Paul then
goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s
power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in
hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10).

The church in Smyrna was also promised a greater reward – the crown of life if they endured their
persecutions to the point of death. They may seem weak and poor in the eyes of the world but, to
God, they are rich in faith!

May the Lord help us to have a different and higher view of our sufferings here on earth.

Revd Ian