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What Does the Bible Say About Trials?

In late 1960s, psychologists at Stanford University performed a test on over 600 children. They brought these children into a room and gave them a treat, and a promise of more treats if they could complete the test.

This study became known as the ‘Marshmallow Study.’

They would give a child one marshmallow, and say,

“If you can wait until we come back – we’re going to leave and we’re going to come back in a little bit – if you can wait and not eat this marshmallow, we will give another marshmallow.”

Two instead of one.

“You can eat this marshmallow right now if you want, but that means that you don’t get the extra marshmallow later.”

The results were interesting: some children hid their eyes. Others turned around and tried to not look at the marshmallow. Some started kicking the desk or pulling their pigtails.

And, of course, some just ate the marshmallow right away.

They are kids – marshmallows don’t stand much of a chance.

Of those that did not just eat the marshmallow right away, but they tried to wait for the second marshmallow, only one-third actually made the distance.

Only 33% endured until the end.

In 2012, they revisited this study, and in this case, decided to split their test subjects into two groups:

  • Group number one was given a fulfilled promise right before the study.
  • Group number two was given an unfulfilled promise right before the study.

Of those who had received an undelivered promise prior to the study, most of them ate the marshmallow right away.

Of those that had received a fulfilled promise right before the study, most of them were able to wait until the person came back.

In other words, they found that trust was a major factor.

If the child trusted the person who said, “If you don’t eat this marshmallow until I come back, I will give you another one. I will come back in a few minutes,” if they trusted that that person was telling them the truth, they are much more likely to wait until that person comes back.

Of those that had an unfulfilled promise, when they performed the study, they had no trust.

“Maybe this person’s not coming back. When they come back, maybe they’re going to take this marshmallow away. When they come back they’re going to say, ‘Sorry, you only get one marshmallow.’ I might as well just eat this marshmallow now, ’cause I don’t know what’s going to happen later.”

Can you relate?

All of us are going to hit those dark times.

All of us are going to go through the valleys, where everything just seems to go wrong, and we’re not getting the answers to our prayers.

In those situations it can be easy, especially for someone who is a believer but whose faith is shaken, to get the idea that,

“I should just going to cash out now. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been praying, but nothing’s happening, so I’m just going to jump in and try to make my own way.”

That’s eating the marshmallow.

How many promises of God have we missed out on, because we cashed in on whatever He had given us already and just called it a day, because we were tired of waiting?

We were tired of fighting.

We were tired of the struggle.

Luke 21 says this,

“But before all these things, they shall lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up into the synagogues and into prisons, being brought before kinds and rulers for my namesake, and it shall turn to you for a testimony.”

What Jesus is saying in this passage is that there’s going to be some things that come your way – there’s going to be some intimidating times, some bad times, some dark times – but then He says, “It’s going to turn as a testimony for you.”

Revelations 12 and 11 tells us that we overcome, “by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony.”

We need testimonies.

Testimonies are our power, the thing that gives us trust and faith, fulfilled promises that we take into the trial. If I have testimonies that I look back on and say, “You know what? He kept his word before,” I am much more likely to be able to endure this trial that’s before me.

We have to make it to the end of the test.

We have to make it to the end of this trial.

And, when we do, He’s made promises, He’s given us dreams, He’s told us things that He is going to provide for us, and ultimately, He’s told us He’s going to save us.

We’re going to spend eternity with Him in heaven.

We must endure through every trial.

We need testimonies so we can look back in those times and see where He has come through for us before. We can take that trust, faith, testimony and apply it to our current situation. And then, when the next test comes, you have yet another fulfilled promise.

It’s these testimonies that keep us going.

It’s these testimonies that encourage each other.

Don’t discount the value of victories in your life, especially when you’re in the middle of another battle.

So, if you’re struggling today, if your faith is shaken, and you don’t see a way out, don’t give up!

God is going to come through, and he always shows in exactly the right time. He’s not going to come in and deliver you out of this situation, if it’s going to stunt your growth for something greater, later.

This is a test that’s going to become a victory.

And, you will need this victory, this fulfilled promise, in the future because you will most likely face another battle. You need to understand, in the middle of the next battle that last time, He kept His word. And, He’s going to keep His word this time.

God always comes through with his promises, and He has another marshmallow – another fulfilled promise – another victory in store for you, if you just keep going.

Keep waiting.

Keep trusting.

Do not cash in, and God will deliver you another testimony.

You need this victory. You own this victory as long as you don’t give up too soon.

The Refuge is a growing community of believers, dedicated to living our lives according to the Word of God, showing the love of Jesus in our world, and growing individually and collectively in our walk with God. If you're looking for a friendly church in downtown Seattle, we would love for you to be our guest!

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