1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Maybe it’s my age. Or maybe I’m just paying more attention (because of my age?). But there have been a goodly (badly?) amount of trials that have come about to so many of my friends–and myself–lately. These trials are aptly named partly because there are major decisions to make in the midst of them all, and the choices are gut-wretching and real and have serious ramifications. None of us have crystal balls (because, for one, the wrath of the Lord would be not-so-fun!), but even so, we do all desire to make the right choices–that is, the choices that would best lead to the best outcome for the best price (you know, in our “fleshly-understanding of what that would be” sort of way). What kind of treatment a child with cancer ought to get. To stay with or to leave a husband who has been unfaithful. To give up a paying job or to forget the dream of self-employment. To pay the mortgage or go to the grocery store. Hard choices. Lots of time at kitchen tables. Tears. Pain.
It seems to me that perspective is so very important. I do not mean in a manner that lowers others to place our own situations in a better light. There is something inherently wrong with looking at the bright side by pointing out someone who is dealing with something worse. Their “worse” doesn’t really matter at all, because the pain of your “better” is still painful, and added guilt over the matter doesn’t relieve much at all.
By “perspective” I mean by beginning with a heart and mind set on the Lord Jesus Christ. When trials arise, it is really not proper to ask, “why me?” That puts us in a position of judging what God has allowed, and who can be His judge? But rather to say, “yes me, and so much more than even this do I deserve”. It means to acknowledge His great kindness in all of the time He gave (and gives) without trials. It may be a time to both be weary and sad and scared and heartbroken, but it is also a time to say, “yes, Lord, even so.” If all things truly work for our good (do we really believe that?), then we must fervently look to what the Lord is trying to teach us through this, and to steadfastly cling to the Rock who never moves even when our world does. After all, dear Christian, where else would you go?
John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
The only way not to fall in the flesh is to walk by the Spirit (see Gal 5:16). If anger is a sin (Eph 4:31) and worry is commanded against (Phil 4:6), what is then a proper response? The first thing, always, is to take a hurting heart directly to the Lord in prayer.
1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
It is such a privilege to have God’s ears to our cry. During this time, we are not stagnant, we are proactive. We are drawing upon His strength and seeking His perspective, which is above our own meager thoughts and fleshly ways always. He knows why your daddy left, your brother turned to homosexuality, your child died. That in itself doesn’t make the pain go away, but if even the sparrows do not fall unnoticed, it is something that He is not blind to the overwhelming floods that occur in this life. He knew they would come, but He also gave us the command to be in the midst of it all “of good cheer” (see John 16:33) not because these things would be understandable or even pleasant, but because the death of people or dreams is not the end of the matter. HE is the end of the matter, and HE still is living and alive, working all things for good and in the process giving even the sorrowing widow a deep seated peace in her soul that surpasses all understanding.
In these times, it is good to remember we do have choices. Walking in the Spirit means making some choices that feel at times counterproductive: like gratefulness in every thing, not just in every “good” thing (see 1 Thes 5:18). Like finding something in the fog to praise God for. Like giving up our own wants and instead accepting what God sees as our needs. Like submitting under the burning to purify the dross. Like recognizing God’s sovereignty in everything, as Job (2:10), “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
I do tremble at times when in trial. I am not the strong, unmovable woman o’God that I desire to be. My teeth rattle and my knees go weak. I doubt. I try to fix things before asking the Lord. But on the other side, I do see my need more for the everlasting arms (Deut 33:17) and for savoring His words, bathing my heart in them. How can these needs born of affliction be bad? I ponder and cherish His Words such as:
Psalms 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Tribulation is painful. But, beloved, they are not without purpose, and they are not the end of things. Resurrection is the end of things. May we all in our own heartaches remember our friend in Jesus, and that empty tomb, and be found faithful and full of praise for it all when He returns.