“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you,” 1 Peter 4:12.
Our world has suffering that is seen all around us, and we all face it at one time or another in our own lives. But how do we respond to it when we face it? Suffering is not a sign of our own holiness nor does it give us certain points to make us better in the sight of God.
There are certain things that we need to consider when we face various trials and periods of suffering in our own lives. We need to ask ourselves how we should respond to these difficult times that come into our lives. We need to ask ourselves if we can learn from this ordeal. We finally need to ask ourselves if God can use our suffering to bring about a change in us, and develop his Christ-like character.
There are many reasons why we suffer in our lives. We live in a fallen world, and because of this, these things happen to all of us. We may suffer because of making poor decisions and acting in foolish ways, but God also uses these times to discipline his sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:6).
But many of us suffer for reasons that we simply don’t understand. Some develop cancer and live in poverty because of a spouse who has left, and there simply isn’t enough money to support the family. Maybe a job was given to someone else instead of you, and life just doesn’t seem fair. But for whatever reason, we can be sure that ALL of us will face various trials and suffering in one way or another. And this is going to be an on-going issue that will surely follow the hands on the clock and will continue until we die.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Some may say that if we would just have renounced these things ‘in the name of Jesus’ that then we wouldn’t have had to face them. But those that say these types of things say them without a true understanding of scripture, and of the life of Christ.
“…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him,” Romans 8:17.
We can be sure that the testing of our faith will produce endurance. We will have a great need for this character trait as we go through life. Our endurance will help us in this great marathon that we all are running in. We know that we haven’t obtained the fulfillment of all of this, but we believe that as we keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the author of our faith that we will receive the crown of life when we meet him, face-to-face.
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:12-14.
Without Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the apostle may well have become puffed up in his own pride and the revelations that he had received. God can use these trials and periods of suffering, to bring about humility in our lives.
The Apostle Paul saw his thorn in the flesh as an instrument allowed by God to help him maintain a spirit of humility and dependence on the Lord because of the special revelations he had seen as one who had been caught up to the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:7.
Suffering is not something that will bring about more faith or maturity in our lives, but it is a tool that God can use. So then when these circumstances come into our lives, we are forced to rely more upon God and his resources, rather than upon our own.
Suffering helps remove impurities in our lives. It can remove the dirt of selfishness, greed, indifference, and all other kinds of falsehood. And then when we embrace the suffering that comes into our lives, the fruit of His spirit can instill loving-kindness, patience, faithfulness, joy, peace, and love.
James tells us to welcome these struggles and trials like “old friends.” I wouldn’t want a friend who continually came back and welcomed me with a flat tire, sickness, and took all my money from me. However, we are to know that these times will continue to come into our lives, and like an old trusted friend, we can trust the hand of God in using these things to help bring us closer to him, and to become more like him.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the Lord is a special way in 1975 and has been prophesying regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are to be reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?