Let’s all be honest! Don’t you prefer everything to run smoothly with no heartache, pain, or suffering? It’s much simpler, isn’t it? Nothing to problem-solve or stress over … just calm waters and smooth sailing. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. It seems that I’m either in the midst of a trial, coming out of one, or about to go into one. Thank goodness we have a high priest who has been tempted and tried, yet is without sin! (Hebrews 4:15) He’s been there, and longs to walk me through my times of trouble.
This week we’ll once again talk about trials and sufferings, and we’ll discover that finding joy in the midst of those sufferings is Precious in His Sight.
Search the Scriptures by reading 1 Peter 4:12-19.
Now let’s do some discovering …
“Do not be surprised …” Does it surprise you when you go through trials? Are you caught off guard when things go awry? Do you find it strange that believers have to endure suffering? We really should not. Jesus was very clear in John 16:33 when He said …
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Trials are a fact of life. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how rich or poor you are, how smart you are, or how many trips you make to the church house. The truth is, trials and suffering are a part of life. And the interesting thing is that we’re told we should, “rejoice” while we’re traversing through these treacherous and tumultuous times. Why? First, we are to rejoice because we are identifying with Christ and His sufferings (Philippians 3:10-11) and second, we are to rejoice when Christ’s glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13) Our lives are to point others to Jesus and His glory, and we are to reflect His glory in all we do.
That is a really tall order I know, and often it’s difficult for me to put my head around it. But … it’s still truth! Now I know … it’s really easy for me to say that when I’m not suffering (and you too). It’s like being on the outside looking in, but when in the middle of a trial, well … it’s just not that easy is it?
After reading these verses in 1 Peter 4, I was reminded of James’ words in James 1:2-4 …
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials do several things according to James 1:2-4:
- Trials grow our faith. (James 1:3)
- Trials perfect us and make use more like Jesus. (James 1:4)
- Trials cause us to trust God and bring us closer to Him if we allow it. (Isaiah 26:3)
Lastly, trials teach us to entrust ourselves to our creator. Look at 1 Peter 4:19.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
That being said, what trials are you facing today? Will you choose to entrust yourself to your Creator? Will you choose to look at them with an eternal perspective, focusing on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith? (Hebrews 12:2)
Below I want to share some practical things we can do when we’re in a trial, coming our of a trial, or getting ready to go into a trial. Because let’s face it … we shouldn’t be surprised! Trials are coming, and as believers we want to glorify God with our lives and live joyfully in Jesus’ presence!
Apply Truth to Your Life …
- Begin your day (every day) with prayer. Ask God to walk with you through your day and keep your eyes fixed on Him.
- Read God’s Word daily.
- When you’re in the midst of suffering, ask God to show you a verse that you can meditate on, then really lean into God’s Word and His presence as you walk through the trial.
- Entrust yourself to God. (Literally say that to Him. “God I entrust myself and this situation to You!”)
- Remind yourself of God’s attributes. (I personally find this very helpful. Remembering who God is has always helped me trust Him and find joy in Him even when going through suffering.)
- Don’t try to project your answers, thoughts, or solutions on the situation. Rather, depend on God to be your problem solver.
Finally, look to Christ and His suffering and strive to keep an eternal perspective.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Precious Jesus, You suffered willing, lovingly, and sacrificially for me. You considered it joy when You went to the cross, as it brought glory to Your Father. Help me suffer for Your sake with joy that I may bring You much glory with my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jacqueline Heider is the Director of Women’s Ministry, Prayer & Resource Specialist at Warren Baptist Church