What will you be able to offer the World Tomorrow?
Those called out of this world in this age, as the “firstfruits” in God’s plan of salvation, can qualify to be among the first to receive the gift of eternal life, contributing to the governing Family of God as God seeks to extend His Family-building efforts to all humanity!
What will you have to contribute? For some famous personalities in this calling, the answers might be obvious. Herbert W. Armstrong discusses this in Mystery of the Ages, where patriarchs like Noah, Abraham, Joseph and Daniel are noted for what kind of leadership they will be able to offer in God’s Kingdom. Those offices are based directly on their experiences in this life. Likewise, what we offer God’s Family is based directly on how the Holy Spirit interacts with our human spirit today. It is based on our skills, aptitudes and experiences, including our trials.
Why do we experience trials? Sometimes we bring them on ourselves, which shows us our shortcomings. Sometimes, God specifically applies or allows pressure to strengthen us.
By “trials,” I mean hardships. This same word also refers to the “trial” period our lives as firstfruits are—in the sense of something being tested and proved. But we each have personal “afflictions” or “sufferings” as the Bible terms them. Apostles like Peter and Paul called them “fiery trials” or “tribulations.”
Our trials, hardships, tribulations and challenges are not simply to endure or “get through.” They are to teach us. We should learn from them, or they likely won’t bear any real fruit.
Beyond this, though, have you ever thought of how your trials help others? What you learn doesn’t only benefit you. After all, your trials are qualifying you for an office of service.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the Apostle Paul referred to “the God of all comfort … Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” We receive comfort in trials so we can comfort others.
The trials you have been through hopefully yield positive spiritual results. God intends us to use those results to help others. Your trials are intended to make you a better tool for God to use in the future. Thankfully, God will never give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Paul’s letter continues, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation” (2 Corinthians 1:5-6).
Paul would later be a living example of this when offering encouragement from a Roman prison. The Apostle John also gave profound spiritual education when he was later banished.
Gerald Flurry writes about these apostles’ examples in The Last Hour: “Paul wrote his most inspiring letter from prison at the end of his life (2 Timothy). John wrote the greatest book of prophecy in the Bible—Revelation—while imprisoned on Patmos. These men were bold. How do you respond to trials? Do you use them to become more bold toward God? Does your example in trial and testing inspire others?” (emphasis added).
Peter is another example of using his trials to benefit others. He wrote: “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:14-15).
“God’s plan was for Peter to be put to death,” Mr. Flurry writes. “Why? There is more to it than just His desire to refine Peter’s character” (The Epistles of Peter—A Living Hope).
Consider this in your trials: There is more to be gained than just the refinement of your character.
“With the crisis in the Church, his personal trials and the knowledge of his imminent death, Peter had so much he could have been negative about. But Peter was learning a lesson specifically so he could teach the Philadelphia Church of God in this end time!” Mr. Flurry continues. “We must learn it, so we can build this solid hope into our lives—and then proclaim it to the world!” Peter’s trials would help the future Church of God! And we in turn must proclaim what we learn.
“What Peter went through was a stupendous blessing for us! God has a plan to get this lesson into our minds as we go forth to broadcast a difficult message in the most difficult times ever! This is what will keep us going when we don’t want to keep going. This hope is for the whole world. We must be globally minded, as God is. Christ gave His life for the world. We have been called to follow in His steps” (ibid).
We must learn to think this way in our trials! As Mr. Flurry writes: “You will never endure the trials God gives you unless you see this splendid reason to do so.”
Abraham and Sarah waited a long time for a child—so long, that when God promised it, the idea of it at their age was laughable to Sarah. Genesis 18:10-15 detail her skeptical response and God’s correction for that. Sarah learned faith from this experience (Hebrews 11:11).
When Isaac was born, Sarah said, “… God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6). Now Sarah had a different kind of laughter: joyous, faith-filled laughter. And she wanted others to share in it with her.
Other remarkable female examples include Naomi and Ruth. The fruits from these two widows’ trials are detailed in our booklet Ruth—Becoming the Bride of Christ.
Regarding Naomi, Mr. Flurry writes: “Naomi’s trial gave rise to one of the greatest blessings that any woman received in the Bible! She ended up playing a tremendous part in building the house of David—the descendants of David, including Christ! In the end, Naomi serves as a monument forever—canonized by the great God because of her loyalty in spite of her severe trials!”
Regarding Ruth: “Ruth played a vital role in preparing for David’s throne! It is truly stirring to think of what God did with this woman! You’d have to agree with what God did in allowing her to go through that trial. He really had a plan for this lady!” (ibid).
Another woman who teaches us about helping others through what we learn in trial is Hannah. “Hannah waited many years for a child,” Mr. Flurry writes. “This was an immense trial she struggled with. But God was making her wait for an important reason. He was developing tremendous, godly character in this woman. After many years of being barren, Hannah had come to have an entirely different view about children” (The God Family Vision). This different view impacted how she helped her son and then countless others!
It ought to help us as well. “Rearing children is a trial and a test. There is struggle involved. We have to struggle to teach our children,” Mr. Flurry continues. “Likewise, it will be a struggle to teach all the spiritual children in the future. So God has us start small, learning many wonderful lessons with a few physical children. Even if you don’t have children, you can still learn this all-important lesson by studying God’s Word and observing other families. Are you ready to rear and train billions of spiritual children? That is why we are here in God’s Church today. We must get ready for that awesome responsibility.”
God is training even those firstfruits without children to learn how to rear children. Our trials are literally for this purpose. How can you use what struggles you have had to help others in the future?
After Hannah gave birth to Samuel, she taught some amazing prophecy: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:8).
All our trials and experiences can allow God to set the world on our shoulders! “The very purpose for our calling today is to teach and rule the entire Earth in the near future—and, after that, the universe. That is our incredible human potential as firstfruits today! That is a lot of responsibility. If God is going to give us this kind of glory, He must try and test us to prepare us” (ibid).
Hannah used her struggles to rear a prophet. That prophet, in turn, used his struggles to mold a king. And that king—David—used his struggles to compose songs to help others.
“David was still writing poetry—much of it inspiring and filled with hope—while experiencing some of the worst trials of his life! We can write poetry in our trials as David did” (The Former Prophets).
David wasn’t writing these lyrics just to “process” his trials. He wanted them to be useful to others. Psalm 34 attests to this. The inscription indicates that he wrote this while fleeing from King Saul. Verses 2-3 read: “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” While on the run, David used his affliction to make God real to his followers. This entire psalm has this theme.
Earlier in David’s life, he faced challenges that he used for positive ends. When he told Saul his qualifications to take on Goliath, he explained how he had killed a lion and a bear in watching over his father’s sheep—“and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:34-36). David zealously protected his “father’s sheep.” He would do anything to impress Dad—despite his elderly father (verse 12) apparently not thinking much of him (for example, not inviting him to dinner when Israel’s most prominent man visited—1 Samuel 16). That lion and bear didn’t know what they were up against: a God-reliant kid who would do anything to please his physical father and gain his approval! David did the best job he could in his challenging situation, and he ultimately applied those lessons to saving a nation!
Later in life, David suffered self-inflicted agony due to his affair with Bathsheba. In repentance he prayed: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise” (Psalm 51:12-13). David wanted to use this experience to help others.
Psalm 66 contains similar thoughts: “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. … Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (verses 10-12, 16).
When we are teaching in the World Tomorrow, we will declare what God had done for each of us.
Of all the biblical examples of this, Christ’s is supreme: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [aid/relieve] them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). He was tried so He could help us. That was a reason He was “made like unto his brethren” (verse 17). And that will be part of our function in God’s future world: to offer additional aid and relief to those we serve.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The phrase “touched with the feeling” is one Greek word: sumpatheo. It’s where we get our word sympathy, though the definition can even describe empathy—feeling what another is feeling. Whatever agony you feel, Christ can identify. He was “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and He uses those personal experiences to help us. If we develop such Christ-like empathy, our grief too can be used to serve others.
Hebrews then describes how even ministers in this life are “compassed with infirmity” (Hebrews 5:2), so that they can “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way ….”
Christ had no personal sins to overcome, but He did learn obedience “by the things which he suffered” (verse 8) and was “made perfect” (verse 9). Yet He also received that education so He could become the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (verse 9)—it was for our benefit. 1 John 2:1-2 state He uses that experience and education to intercede on our behalf, as our Advocate, continually helping us by His presence beside God the Father.
God’s firstfruits will marry Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). Much like the Son gives the Father additional perspective on our struggles, so will we as the Bride help our Husband understand our spiritual children.
Think of the empathy Christ extends to us. God likewise wants us to empathize with others: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). The more we have experienced something similar, the more capable we are of this.
Proverbs 25:20 says that singing songs to a heavy heart (symbolic of dismissing or ignoring someone’s grief) is like taking away a garment from someone in the cold, or “as vinegar upon nitre”—that is, it can be explosive!
Consider how much we will be able to help those in the future in their tribulations—as we work initially with those who have come out of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14). God will turn their mourning into joy—and we will help. Think of the advantage we will have as firstfruits living in the end of this age of man.
We live in “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1), a time when people lack “natural affection” (verse 3). Many of God’s firstfruits today are victims of parents without affection. If you are in that category, you know what that’s like and how hard it is to move past it. But think of the future: You can be a massive help to others who lived in this perilous period and suffered those scars. You get to help implement the solution.
Remember how Paul praised the God who comforts us so we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4). In the World Tomorrow, we will be able to comfort and help so many just as God has for us.
Later in this letter, Paul wrote: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Here is a metaphor about weight. The most quantifiable measure to weigh a trial would be its length: The longer it is, the heavier. But that will never compare to the “weight” of eternity—the “eternal weight of glory” God is preparing us for.
Using the Apostle Peter’s analogy of a thousand years being like a day to God (2 Peter 3:8), a 70-year life is like an hour and 40 minutes. A yearlong trial on that scale is a minute and a half. A three-week illness is five seconds.
Yet how much we can learn from those few seconds! They teach us eternal lessons—lessons that will help us forever and afford endless value in our usefulness to others.
This truth can revolutionize your perspective on trials! “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
God is training us to look past the temporary—past what we can see right now. But it’s not so we ignore the trials. Looking to the eternal helps us see how these trials uniquely qualify us to help in the future.
God wants us to see the usefulness of all our relatively light afflictions so we can be a weighty, glorious influence on others in the future—a time when today’s trials become tomorrow’s tools.