Since it's been a few days, and life has bombarded me with many things to think about since I last posted, it would be easy to avoid writing the rest of my thoughts on the subject of trials and skip right to what's on my heart today. However, I've decided to add just a few more thoughts on my last posting because I really do think it's important that our perspectives get adjusted, especially mine.
Sometimes, I think we are weak in the area of trials. We consider inconviences and annoyances to be monumental sufferings. If I think about the things that bugged me yesterday - slow drivers, errors on the baseball field, oak pollen, a lack of caffeine and chocolate - those things were barely trials. When we talk about circumstances that build perseverance, we really aren't talking about taking the time to bake a potato in the oven instead of microwaving it. In our society, it's easy to feel robbed of time, our most precious resource, if things don't happen immediately and continually. Boredom and frustration set it very quickly. Do you get what I am saying? We are a bit soft and perhaps, forgive me if I offend you, a tad spoiled.
When Peter wrote to the church "scattered throughout..." it was around 63 AD. Nero was Emperor of Rome. He was an outlandish ruler. It was during his reign that persecution of the church became severe. Nero had Christians used as tiki torches for parties! Living as a believer under that kind of threat is a real trial, wouldn't you say?
I want to interject something nagging my mind. Cancer is not an inconvenience or an annoyance. Neither is any other life threatening or serious illness. I do understand that we face real trials in our world, but I am admitting that most of what I consider trials and sufferings are mere irritations. I certainly don't mean to downplay anyone's real struggles.
The early church knew a lot about genuine struggles. And Peter wrote to them about them. "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1: 6-7).
Paul referred to suffering in a similar manner 9 years earlier, just after Nero came to the throne."For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
Let me break these down for us:
1. Trials cause grief, but from the right perspective can be seen as light and momentary troubles.
2. Trials are real, but so is faith.
3. How we live through trials and sufferings proves our faith.
4. Faith is more valuable than even pure gold because it lasts. Gold can be destroyed. True faith cannot be.
5. Our troubles accomplish eternal purposes. The means are worth the end.
6. When our genuine faith is displayed in trials, we reveal Christ in us, and somehow, in some way, He is praised, glorified and honored.
7. We are not meant to be mastered by our trials, but we are to master them by focusing on the unseen and the eternal.
What if we greeted every struggle with a thank you to God? What if we welcomed every hardship with an expectation that God was up to something eternal and good? What if we cared more about glorifying Christ than having an easy day?
This rebuke is not intended for anyone but myself, but if it helps or encourages anyone else in some way, I'll be thrilled to know I'm not alone. We cannot escape trials, problems, issues, stuff... but we can face them head on with eyes up and focused on Christ.
Be blessed today!