Life is hard.School is hard. Work is hard. Relationships are hard.Getting into the right school is hard. Getting good marks is hard. Keeping up those marks are hard.Getting a job is hard. Keeping the job is hard. Doing a good job is hard. Being missional in the workplace is hard.Friendships are hard to start. It is hard to keep what friendships you do have strong. Not hurting each other when you become good friends is hard. Not losing contact with friends is hard. Dealing with the fact that you’ll likely lose contact with some friends, that’s hard.Life is hard. Why are we so surprised when life turns sour? Whoever said it was going to be easy? Why do we whine and complain when it is hard? Why don’t we give thanks to God enough for life when it is not too hard? Who was it that tricked and deceived us to think that it would even be remotely easy? Who lied to you? And while we’re asking the question, who lied to me?
Suffering as a ChristianBeloved, 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. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.(1 Peter 4:12-14)
The context in 1 Peter 4 is about suffering as a Christian for the sake of the Gospel. However, I am certain that when we put our minds to it, the Spirit still speaks to us in our context today. Thus, Scripture tells us here–God calls us now–to do not be surprised! Life will be filled with fiery trials that will test us, trials that may sometimes feel strange. But do not be deceived; we experience all kinds of hardship because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us when we share in Christ’s suffering–and especially when we are insulted for the bearing the mark of Christ on our bodies.
Peace with God Through FaithMore than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.(Romans 5:3-5)
Indeed, we should not just be expectant and ready for life’s hardships, we should rejoice in them–almost to the extent that we should want to suffer and to go through trials and testing! I have mentioned this to friends in the past, that if I had a choice between the easy road or the hard road, I would choose the hard, difficult, road less taken. It’s not a pride thing, to show everybody that I can do this (–often I cannot do it–), but I know I will come out a better person because I go through the hard times, the difficult circumstances in life.Why? Because simply, suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope… and hope never shames us. For when we have that fruit of hope through suffering, our hearts are filled will the love of Christ in the providence of the Holy Spirit. And thus, in this very hope, we have peace with God through our faith in His sovereign grace.
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.(James 1:2-3)
I think the most incomprehensible aspect of going through trials and testings as a Christian, is how I could ever “count it all joy”. Nobody ever is happy to suffer, unless it is for the one they love. For when you love someone, anybody, so truly, madly, deeply, you would without a doubt desire to suffer and endure all painstaking hardship so that the other person does not have to. That is one reason why Christ Jesus ran to the Cross–that is how much He loved us, even in spite and despite us being so unloving and undeserving of His love. If ever we could find this kind of love in our hearts, for our family, for our friends, for our brothers and sisters, we would then naturally find joy in our sufferings. We wouldn’t care how much we would have to suffer for them, because it would all be worth it–and still we would be more than willing to endure more pain.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith???more precious than gold that perishes though it is 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)
May we never be surprised ever again at the trials that may come our way. May we rejoice every time that life gets hard, knowing that in so enduring the hardships we are being refined by fire, so that our faith may be tried, tested and found to be truly genuine; an authenticity that pours forth in praise and glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ! And may we give thanks to God everyday for the opportunities to share in His Son’s sufferings, chance after chance to be more Christ-like 🙂