Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fiery trials? Time to rejoice!

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,

as though some strange thing happened to you (1 Peter 4:12, NKJV).

In the past few weeks I’ve heard from people who are at the end of their rope, beaten down with trials and suffering that seem to have no end. They feel they cannot endure another minute and even find themselves questioning God and His faithfulness.

In the above verse, Peter was trying to help us see that as believers, trials are not the exception but rather the norm. We belong to Christ, who was beaten, tortured, and killed; should we truly expect any less?

But we do, don’t we? Particularly if we live in a country or culture or time when Christians aren’t openly persecuted. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be tried in other ways, indeed to the point of exhaustion, where we question if we can go on another day—another minute.

Christians throughout the centuries and even today in many countries understand these fiery trials only too well. One Chinese Christian, who had suffered beyond human endurance and therefore had learned to depend on God when all else was lost, said this:

“Where there is no cross, there is no crown. This lesson cannot be learned from books, and men do not usually taste this sweetness. This rich life does not exist in a comfortable environment. If the spices are not refined to become oil, the fragrance of the perfume cannot flow forth; if the grapes are not crushed in the vat, they will not become wine.”

Feeling crushed lately? You are not alone. Not only do other Christians truly “feel your pain” because they too are in the refining process, but Jesus Christ Himself endured the crushing so the fragrance of new life could burst forth in us.

Take courage in the verse that follows the one above: “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13, NKJV). God is faithful. Your sufferings are not in vain. Your tears do not fall unnoticed. He will bring you to the place of exceeding joy.

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