Trials 6 - Responding to trials, part 2

After learning to swim, here's what else we can do when we're plunged into the 'sea' of trials...

2. Go for orthodox strokes
There’s a reason that most people swim most of the time with orthodox strokes – they work. There are loads of variations, and everyone swims differently, but when it feels like ‘sink or swim’, go with what you know.

When life is different from what you’re used to, there is a temptation to think that you need something different to get you through. People suddenly start going to strange places with weird theology to get themselves out of the sea. I would urge you to resist this, to keep trusting what God has shown you is good and right:
  • Praising God for His goodness
  • Being filled with the Holy Spirit
  • Confessing and repenting of your sins
  • Reading and meditating on the Word of God
  • Seeking to love those around you
  • Calling on God to help you
  • Being generous with all that God has given you (even if it seems less than you are used to having)
  • Seeking to become more humble and trusting
These are the swimming strokes that Christians have practised for centuries - and they have proved mightily effective. If these things are not currently part of your normal pattern, maybe God will use a trial to get you swimming this way.

3. Keep your head above water
Underwater is a different world – it seems that water is all there is. Get your head above water and you’ll have a better perspective. At times of trial I have to remind myself that God is good, whatever the current circumstances. Many of the blessings I’m used to enjoying – health, security, people I love and who love me – may have been taken away but God is still good. Without that perspective, I cannot swim.

4. Breathe air, not water
I hate it when I’m swimming and I suddenly get a mouthful of water. Water is not what my lungs need: air is! God has blessed us with His life-giving breath, the Holy Spirit – how we need Him in times of trials. Be filled with the Holy Spirit, ask Him every day to give you strength to swim, and peace even in the midst of a storm.

5. Take your shoes off
I’ve never tried to swim with my shoes on but I’ve seen enough movies to know that when someone is fully dressed and about to dive into water, they always take their shoes off. Are there sins that are hindering you from swimming well? They may have been around a long time, they may seem to fit you really well, but they need to go. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if you are carrying things you shouldn’t be. One of God’s purposes in trials is to bring attention to sins in our lives that we need to get rid of: you may leave the sea lighter than when you got in.

6. Realise you’re a swimmer
You can swim, with God’s help you can get through this. Water actually holds you up! And as we exercise our muscles by swimming, they grow! In His amazing grace, God increases our ability to swim as we need it.

Remember that Jesus understands what you’re going through and will be with you, and keep you secure:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” (Isaiah 43:2-3)
If you’re not aware of this you’ll just be expecting to drown – God has much better for you than that.