Grin and bear it.
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16).”
The trials we face in life will either build us or break us. A soldier must go through rigorous training to test their ability to hold their own, in dangerous situations. In a competitive race, some will endure to the finish line, while others will drop out from exhaustion. Character is shaped by the different challenges we face. Every stage of life prepares us for the next. We should see the trials we face as opportunities, not misfortune. The tougher the circumstances, the more resilient we should become. Like bodybuilding, resistance-weight-training strengthens and builds muscle. Christians go through trials, suffering, and temptations, just as much as everyone else. We must grow in faith, persistence, endurance and character, with every trial we face.
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but 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. 14 If you are reproached for the Name of Christ, blessed are you, for The Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1 Peter4).
Fiery trials don’t just happen to a select few. There are difficult phases in our lives where it seems like we have lost control of our circumstances: dealing with a debilitating illness, losing a job, death of a loved one, overwhelmed by responsibilities, carrying emotional pain from an injustice or separation from a loved one. The world is rife with imperfection; our mental, physical and emotional being can’t keep up with the ebb and flow. We can make plans that can crumble at any moment. Nothing is guaranteed, not even your life or that of your loved one. So in your trials, remember that The Son of Living God was also subjected to suffering. If Christ, Who Created the entire universe and holds it together, suffered, we are not exempt. If we are in Christ Jesus, we will suffer just as He did. We break the bread of communion—His broken Body, to commemorate His death. But we also eat the bread to symbolize our unity with His suffering Body. We are reminded to rejoice in our suffering, because we bear in our bodies the likeness of Christ.
If as believers we are reproached or reviled for our commitment to Christ, we should rejoice all the more. The Spirit of Glory dwells in us, and He’s the evidence to others that we are unique. Their attacks are proof that we don’t fit in. While they attack our convictions, we glorify The Lord because we have been set apart from others. We ensure as much as possible that we are not being condemned, or criticized for participating in works of darkness. Endure reproach for His Name as a badge of honor. We can’t please everyone, even on our best form. So, we should not think that living for God’s Glory will appeal to everyone. He is the only One we need to impress.
9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him. When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. 10 But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. 11 My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His Way and not turned aside (Job 23).
God is imperceptible to our natural senses. We would like to feel Him near us, especially when we are in dire straits. It would be comforting and reassuring if we could hear His Voice. Though we don’t feel Him, He sees us. He feels us and knows us very personally. At all times, we have His Presence in us, and we also have Scripture to guide us. Just because we don’t perceive Him, doesn’t mean He is not there. Each test tries our faith in Him. Instead of behaving like an imp, who must always have their way, by acting out in order to get attention, we should be humble before God. When a child doesn’t get what they want, they become rebellious and petulant. As children of God, we should obey even when we don’t understand why prayers are not being answered. Obedience is much harder when we don’t get what we want. We would rather murmur and become bitter. Obedience makes us do good, focus on God and restrain self-will. Trials will either bring out the best or the worst of us. After we have been tested, we should aspire to come forth as gold.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Galatians 6).
Why cave in to peer pressure, or temptations of this world? If we bear in our bodies the marks of the sufferings of Christ Jesus, we bear the scars from the beatings, the crown of thorns, and the nails that bore Him on the Cross. What can overpower a body that has already been through such suffering? Let no one trouble or pester you, to conform your body to mediocrity. Bear the marks of Christ’s perseverance, so that you too remain unflappable in the face of suffering. Let no one trouble you, because you bear in your body the marks of victory.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1).
Joy hardly ever marries with afflictions. To count it joy when facing trials would require we find something worth rejoicing, in the midst of it. Most trials are out of our control. We can only do so much to mitigate the situation; for the most part, we have to roll with the punches. We can trust God to take charge over those things we have no control over. We put our faith in Him and not in our problem-solving skills.
Faith in God will require us to wait on Him to work things out. Patience is vital for our peace of mind. While patiently waiting to get direction from God, or to see what He will do, we need to direct our energy on other areas in our lives that need our attention. We should pray about every detail of what we are facing and learn how to adapt. Patience should teach us about the areas we need to improve about ourselves. Patience trains us to find hidden treasures in our trials. By staying in constant touch with God, we can be equipped from His Presence with everything we need, to face the next minute. He is our full portion even in the trials. We lack no good thing in His Presence; Here we are made perfect and complete.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1).
Faith is tested most in the crucible of afflictions. Trials test our mettle and shape our character. If we believe in God, we can put our faith to the test, when the world seems to be closing in on us. We don’t see Him, we can hardly feel Him, but we believe He is Loving and Good. Faith that is unwavering will give us peace and joy in the midst of trials. Faith is harnessed from love and trust.
Gold is not going to uphold us when we are depressed, grieving or ailing. We serve The Living God Who will not fail us. Joy does wonders that medicine and money can’t replicate. Joy is a by-product of faith. The genuineness of our faith, in trials, will benefit our mind, body and soul. God is honored by our unwavering confidence in Him.
3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts (Proverbs 17).
Every invention man creates is tested for its usefulness and durability. The most valuable items are tested the hardest and most often: Gold and silver are tested in extreme heat. The Lord tests the hearts of His people. The heart is the hub of all sorts of emotions, passions and persuasion. Anyone who wants to be useful for God’s Purpose must be tested. We are more precious than gold. We have to be ready for every good work, by having the fortitude to overcome what the world throws at us. We are striving to be numbered among those who will enter into His Kingdom, by the salvation of our souls. The enemy of our soul will not relent, to keep us out of God’s Kingdom. So in the furnace of fiery trials, we are trained to withstand temptation, and hold fast to our faith.
17 And if you call on The Father, Who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1).
We are valuable and precious to God, not because we were purchased with gold or silver. We were worth the sacrifice of The Son of God, for the forgiveness of our sins. We belong to Him, because He has redeemed us with His Blood. We no longer live as children of the world, but as the apple of God’s Eye. So no trials should cause us to relinquish our place in the household of God, through compromise. If we could only imagine it, we would understand that we can’t afford to get trapped in vanities and lusts of the world. Every trial is a step higher to our betterment. Our conduct matters in every situation we are faced with. We have to be intentional about gaining what Christ has already attained for us, by living wisely.
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His Body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the Word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1).
Suffering for Christ, as a member of the Body of Christ, is commendable. Paul said that he would have rejoiced to even suffer more, so that he can be one with Christ in His afflictions. Paul felt that his own suffering was pale in comparison to Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross. Those doing the work of the ministry of the Gospel will also suffer persecution. If we suffer for our faith and work within the Body of Christ—His people, we are in good company. Fill up on everything that Christ was! God has chosen His people to be filled with all the Glorious Riches, including the suffering of Christ in us. He is our hope and our strength.
Take courage and face trials with the strength that God provides. Learn from afflictions, and come out as gold. Surrender to God by obedience and faith in Him. He will not allow trials beyond what you can bear. Christians are not immune to challenges. We have to wait patiently for God to deliver us, as we do what we can to move forward. God will never fail us, even as He allows trials in our life. If we are to be useful as His children, we must be tested, so that we can endure trials and temptations for His Glory. We can overcome the distractions of the world, as we live to honor God. As precious vessels for God’s Purpose, we grow from strength to strength and are able to stand against the wiles of the Enemy. Christ suffered; so we are to be as He was in the world. No one should trouble us with mediocrity, because we bear in these bodies the marks of the suffering of our Savior. He dwells in us, to show forth through us His Power, under the strains of life.
“But now, thus says the Lord, Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am The Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you were precious in My sight. You have been honored, and I have loved you. Therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life (Isaiah 43).”