“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”
– 1 Peter 4:12-13
Our lives full of confusing challenges that often escape understanding. We know friends and loved ones who have been trophies of tenderness, yet now suffer with struggling situations. Some have debilitating health issues . . . some face injustice . . . some live with the consequences of other’s decisions.
There is real suffering and pain. It would be so easy for God to release us to a life of heavenly joy than to wallow in this hellish junk. Why doesn’t He just give us our promised hope instead of us grasping for permanent help?
Peter describes a purpose that gives perspective on our problems. Granted, our understanding is limited. But, our God’s understanding is limitless. He longs to replace our fear, failure and fatigue with faith.
My Growth. Peter reminds us to be ready and “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon [us] to test [us]”. Our first response to any difficulty is often surprise and shock. We ask “How could God allow this to happen?” or “What sin have I committed and why is God punishing me?” Be assured of Paul’s encouragement to the Christ-followers in Rome, “There is no therefore NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Rom 8:1). We often see problems as God’s punishment, when in reality they assist in accomplishing His purposes. Peter tells us, “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” (1 Pet 4:19). We don’t just sit back and groan in God’s decision, we stand up grow in God’s destiny.
His Grace. In our struggles, in our challenges, and even in our weaknesses, He is always there with grace that is perfectly portioned to our pain. Paul encourages us through his own pain, “. . . I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me”. (2 Cor 12:7-9). Grace is always there . . . we must give ourselves to it and go with it. Alexander Whyte wrote, “Grace, then, is grace, that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.”
His Glory. The Apostle Peter’s words ring true, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.” Sadly, we all live our lives as if it’s all about us . . . our pleasures, our possessions, our performance or our position. That’s part of the “keeping ourselves on the throne” struggle. It’s really all about Him. Paul gives some insightful instruction, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Cor 4:16-18) Our story is about His glory.
Struggling? Suffering? Sinking? Reach out to the One who has suffered for you and is suffering with you. His grace is sufficient!