I want to share with you three verses on the topic of facing trials, along with some brief pastoral commentary…
1 Peter 4:12-13
“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, ESV)
We have reason to relish in the blessings of our Lord. We ought to grateful and recognize His favor in our journey of faith, this side of Heaven, but the verse reminds us that it doesn’t mean we should be surprised when we find ourselves facing trials, opposition, or struggles.
We live in a sin-sick world and are subject to the same pain and sorrow as everyone else, because of the fall of humanity. The sun shines on whole earth, the rain falls upon all 50 states, and a boost in the economy helps all our neighbors.
The righteous and the wicked experience suffering and even death. As believers we are exempt from the eternal death but not from the earthly death. So we grieve, but not not like those with no hope.
One night I was called into the hospital emergency room for a death. While there another patient died. Both were men in the 40’s and both died of heart attacks. One was of a Christian family and one was of a Hindu family. Both families grieved and cried, but the Christian family did so with a sense of hope and preparedness in their trial.
1 Peter 1:7
“so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7, ESV)
Simply put, trials allow for our faith to be strengthen. Trials build our faith up and prove our faith to ourselves.
Toledo, the area of Ohio where I grew up, was known as “The Glass City” because of the factories that made glass for Detroit’s automobile factories and other needs.
My dad worked at the plant that made windshield glass for General Motors and he would explain how the factory line would take the crude product from its rough source to burn out the impurities than unto a tempering process that produced a clear strong useful windshield.
It’s not much different for the follower of Christ. Our life here is one of sanctification with trials that burn out the impurities and produce a clear useful view of our Savior through us.
Trials, like my dad and the thousands of employees at the glass factory, are not just there for themselves but for the benefit of others to have opportunity to see what Jesus can do in trials.
As unsettling as it may sound, many faithful followers of the Lord pass unto glory through difficult trials not because they need it, but because their loved-ones need to see Jesus work in their trial.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, ESV)
Ultimately, trials clean out the dross in our lives, and hone a character that make us more valuable as a witness of how Christ is working in us. Its usually not in the good times that we grow but in trials.
Your automobile brakes work because tested them when driving the car, so you do not fear driving at a higher rate of speed. Your faith works because you proved it through your trials, so you do not fear facing other trials.
This verse gives us a directive on handling our trials, and that is to rejoice in them. Now, I do not think the Apostle Paul is saying rejoice in a giddy happy dance way, I think he is saying rejoice in a peace and contentment way knowing there is more to the reason behind it than meets the eye.
There was nothing about my recent tooth pain that made me happy, but interestingly I found myself reading an article about the Iranian Christians being persecuted and my tooth pain forced me to contemplate the prospect of standing firm for Christ even in such pain as they are facing.
The point is that when we are in a midst of a trial, we can find comfort in that it is not forever. Remember how fleeting our youth was, remember how fast this year has flown by, and remember that we are bound to this fallen existence forever.
We are awaiting the appearing of our Lord and the end of our trials. Sin and its painful effects have an expiration date — the date our Lord returns. There is solace in the blessed hope, and nothing makes it so blessed as the trials we face.