Beckett: Facing Trials – Why Do We Suffer? Introduction

1 Peter 1:6-7, Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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.

In the last blog entry, I wrapped up our discussion on this “heaviness” Peter mentions. Going back to these “manifold temptations,” what sort of experiences would classify them as such? It can be anything in this life that tends to trouble you or haunt you, something that hurts you at the most sensitive and delicate core of your soul, heart, and mind—things that tend to make you miserable. How do we get past these things? Well, I could go on and on about prayer and resilience, but let’s examine Peter’s instruction, and that is to gain a little understanding of why these things happen to us. The danger is to just endure our troubles with groans and whines and complaints and not do anything about our situation. We come into the danger of thinking, “Why is God doing this to me?” I urge you not to think “why” these things happen to us, but rather to think what. Instead of thinking, “Why me,” think instead, “What can I learn from this? What does God want me to learn?” And then how: “How will this make me grow closer to God?” In short, other than the sinful condition of the world we live in, that is why we suffer—to learn something from God and to grow closer to Him, and then the “why” may come to reveal itself to you as God works out His progressive revelation in your life. That’s the short answer, but now let’s discuss the longer answer.

Examining a section of the first epistle from Peter again, he writes, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be…” If need be. What does he mean by that? In effect, what he means is, “If it is necessary.” As I said at the beginning of this series, Peter’s statement here is not a general one in that because of the sinful condition of the world we live in, these things must happen. Again, it is true, but Peter does not merely leave it at that because it’s not that generic. In essence, he is saying, “You are enduring this grief for the moment because it has proven necessary by God’s will that you ought to experience it.” Trials don’t just take place because of the whole organisation of the sinful world we live in. It plays a role, but it’s not the sole reason. Peter is saying these things happen because they aid in disciplining us in the Lord. Rather than moping around and complaining in our distresses, we can use them as an opportunity to draw closer to our Father and rely on His mercy. In this way, trials always serve as a good reminder that God is our Sustainer. From the examples in Scripture and even our own lives, we know God always responds when we call out in trouble. Nothing illustrates this more than the psalms. In fact, I discuss this a little bit in my article with Geeks Under Grace: Geeking About the Psalms: Psalm 3.

This is how we must view the Christian lifestyle: We are living in this world and walking on our paths under the eye of our Heavenly Father. Say to yourself, “There is a definite plan and purpose for my life. God has examined me and has adopted me into His family.” The plan being salvation for His people. Why does He do this for us? So that He may bring us into perfection (which is not acquired on this side of the eschaton). That is His objective—that you may “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), as Jesus Christ will say, “Here I am with the children God gave Me” (Hebrews 2:13). If we do not believe and recognise this fundamental concept of ourselves as Christians, then we are bound to go astray and misunderstand these troubles that happen to us as God’s children.

Stay tuned for next time when I discuss the first of three reasons why we may suffer: chastisement.

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