Rejoicing in the Trial

You can tell a lot about your heart by how you respond when something goes wrong in your life. Here are some unhelpful examples of how we respond, and what it says about our trust in God in that moment. See if any of these sound familiar:

Sarcasm – “Great. That’s just my luck.” What we’re really saying is, “God, you are unkind.”

Pity – “Why me? I’ve been through enough.” We’re saying, “God, you are unloving.”

Anger – “That’s it! I’m not taking this anymore! I haven’t done anything to deserve this!” We’re saying, “God, you are unjust.”

Fear – “Now what am I going to do? Everything is ruined.” We’re really saying, “God, my problem is bigger than you.”

Denial – “I’m not suffering. Nothing to see here.” What we’re really saying is “God, I don’t trust your character enough to admit this trial is from you.”

We respond in these ways because we forget God’s sovereignty and we doubt God’s goodness. That’s why we constantly need to be reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of God we have been shown in Christ.

So how should we respond to suffering? God’s word tells us to “rejoice”.

But how do we do that? By remembering, that with this trial…

1. God is strengthening your faith.          (1 Peter 4:12-14)

Trials in the life of the Christian will come, so they should not be thought of as unusual or strange. We should expect them. And more than that, we should respond to trials with rejoicing because God is actively using trials to strengthen our faith.

God does this by revealing He is testing us (v. 12), by reminding us we share in Christ’s sufferings (v. 13), and by assuring us we have the blessing of the Holy Spirit (v. 14).

For gold to be purified, it has to go through the refiner’s fire. The extreme heat causes the impurities in the gold called “dross” to come to the surface and be removed. That’s what Peter has in mind when he says, “fiery trials”. When God uses trials to test us, that means He is refining and purifying us for His purposes.

2.  God is cleansing His Church.        (1 Peter 4:15-18)

When Peter talks about judgment beginning with the household of God, he’s saying that the gospel itself is a purifying power. All mankind will be judged on whether or not they trusted in Christ. Those who do not, that judgment will be everlasting punishment. For those who have trusted in Christ, that judgment will not be punishment, but a purification from all sin. That purification begins now, in this life. And it begins with God’s people – the Church.

And your trial, your suffering is just one way God does this. It is a tool in God’s hands to continually remove sin from your heart and empower you day by day to trust and treasure Christ more and more.

But it’s not just you. It’s every other Christian around you right now. It’s God’s Church – together – that He is cleansing and sanctifying and growing us closer to Him and closer to one another.

 

To sum it all up…

[19] Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Because Jesus entrusted Himself to Father (1 Peter 2:23), we can entrust ourselves to God, even in the middle of the trial, knowing this is His will and He is working it out.

When you “entrust” yourself to God, you are saying, “Lord, I don’t see it all. I don’t understand it all. But I trust you. I know you are faithful. I know you are working all things out for the good. I know you are not punishing me, but you’re purifying me. So I’m going to praise you. I’m not going inward with my pain, but I’m going outward with my praise!”

Because of the promises of our faithful Creator, because He made us and saved us and loves us with an everlasting love, we can know without a doubt that our suffering as a Christian is not God’s punishment, but it’s God’s purification. It is God working in us and through us for His good purposes.

In that, we can rejoice, even in our suffering, knowing God is faithful.

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