Written by: Tim Wood
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)
People who follow Christ go through trials. Fiery ones. Trials that test us. Peter was writing to people who were experiencing tremendous suffering and gives solid instruction on how to react to suffering.
1) Don’t be surprised by a trial in your life. Normally, our first response to a fiery trial is, “Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand this. I went to church last weekend!” Peter is telling us that we shouldn’t be surprised by trials that come our way. Actually, we should be surprised by the absence of trials. The word “beloved” means that God still dearly loves us. Nothing can every separate us from the love of God, not even trials. God loves His Son Jesus deeply. Jesus faced trials.
2) Trials are tests. A trial in my life will test my faith. Chuck Swindoll says, “If…we view life as a schoolroom and God as the instructor, it should come as no surprise when we encounter pop quizzes and periodic examinations.” A trial is a test that will keep me strong and sharp.
3) Trials are an opportunity to rejoice. We can rejoice in our trials because it brings us closer to Christ. We don’t rejoice in the suffering, we rejoice in Christ who helps us through the suffering. Suffering is an opportunity to run to Christ, not away from Him. A trial can bring greater glory to God.
John Stott wrote, “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I turn to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me. He set aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death.” We serve a God who is familiar with pain. Our God knows all about fiery trials.
We don’t have to pretend we are tough when the going gets tough. We don’t even have to get going. We can stay near the cross. We can experience his unconditional and eternal love. We can rejoice that through all our suffering God will be glorified and I will be made stronger.