Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” 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 Peter 4:12-19 NLT
“It Is Well” with Kelcie
For someone with no faith, they are just meaningless hardships with no plan or purpose. When there is no faith, things like unexpected sickness, unfair circumstances, etc are all just random, chaotic events beyond their control that a person must A) accept and deal with, hopeless that there circumstances will change for the better or B) run from challenges to find the path of least resistance.
A coworker has been dealing with weird health issues recently, and the doctors so far have been no help for him. No answers. No diagnoses. No advice. No help.
And this isn’t some nagging condition or symptoms — at times, my coworker is overwhelmed by physical symptoms that had him fearful that he might die right at that moment. He’s a young fellow, and he has been fighting to keep his frustration and fear under wraps as he contemplates very real and close (not like some theoretical philosopher) his own life and morality.
He is a professed atheist, and even though he had been curious enough at times to ask me about my faith, he already has such a wall of disgust built up towards “religion” and the atrocities committed throughout history by “religious people”, etc. that he cannot yet grasp hold of the concept of a relationship with a living God that isn’t just foolishness, tradition, ceremony, control and exploitation.
But he is going through a trial, and it is clearly visible in his voice, on his face, in his eyes, in his attitude and in every part of his life right now. And this IS the norm. There is no shame in such things. It is expected when people have no hope beyond themselves.
But if we have faith, shouldn’t our source of hope in Christ offer a different response and attitude and reaction to suffering than the norm?
I wonder how much more it would draw even the most hardened of atheists to at least question and consider the things of God if all the Christians weren’t so fearful and grumbling and critical of their trials, but met them gladly and praised God for the opportunity to suffer and testify to His glory even in the middle of great suffering and trial?
I wonder how much more effective then or reasoning with them and sharing this Good News would prove when the lost actually saw us living, loving, suffering, persisting and encouraging with a fire that burns brightly and consistently regardless of our circumstances.
Such things are beyond a mere man’s power, and we would fall short every time if we’r wye alone and operating solely under our own power and abilities. We might forget or source of hope and cower in the boat instead of stepping out onto the water — and even once we have stepped out, we might falter again, thinking that it is up to us to stay lifted up upon the waters instead of simply trusting God’s call to walk.
But we who know and love the Lord, and who are called according to His purposes — we do not walk alone. We do not suffer alone. And we do not endure fiery trials without purpose or plan, but for the molding and building of our character and nature and very being to demonstrate Christ to a lost and dying world.
So don’t seek out suffering or trial or problems in order to “prove yourself a mighty man or woman of God” and don’t run from trials as if God has abandoned you. Like the young errand boy, who was looked down on by so many mighty warriors, who was overlooked by his own family, who had no armor of his own, who had no personal experience in battling giants, we can say when faced with the total set before us, “Today the Lord will conquer you” when we face an enemy so great or challenging before us that we know that any amount of our own skill throwing rocks would be insufficient without God’s hand of protection guiding us to the battlefield and to the victory.
David wasn’t a great rock slinger. He was just a man who God walked with, a man who knew and lived God. He was a very flawed and imperfect man with nothing good in him apart from Christ, but he was not someone content to stay “apart from Christ”. Lord, let us not see David as a powerful warrior or victor — so that we do not miss what is actually at play — and so that we don’t think highly or lowly of others or ourselves and miss out on your glory alone. Only you are worthy of honor and praise!
Lord, if you will, come and breathe into us this peculiar light of something so different than the world — that we will be content and praise you whether you give or take away — and that we will not stumble or hinder others from seeing your light because of our many shortcomings and lack of faith. Lord, heal us off or unbelief, change or hearts and minds to be more like you. Walk close with us, even along the still waters, even in the valleys, especially upon the mountain tops, and not just in the midst of the fiery trial, but behind us ahead of us, and all around us. Like Elisha and his servant, faced with an army of enemies around them, let us see that there are more Heavenly hosts and warring angels around and protecting your children than the greatest of challenging circumstances could present in this world. Remind us humbly that even though we are barely saved, that we are barely saved nonetheless, and that should be the source of such a grateful life of hope, of faith, of love, of praise, and of worship. Amen.