“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
—1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
Here’s a lesson we have learned many times before, but one I suppose we could stand to learn again. We continually bump up against it in our impatience and rush to get to the good parts of life. In this, we have picked up the mindset of the culture and the beat of our own finite flesh. We want the difficulties to stop, the trying season to end, the sadness to lift, and yet…God has all the time in the world.
It’s funny, when we see department stores doing a similar thing, we get irritated. Pumpkins in August and Easter eggs in February!
“They’re rushing the season!” we say to each other.
The spiritual life has seasons, too. Many not as fun as the holidays either, so we try to rush through them, but for the opposite reason. Instead of bringing on the fun (as with a celebration), we want to bring on the relief.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking:
When this problem goes away, then…
In a few years, such and such will happen,
Things will be easier when…
I suppose our dialogue runs like that as a coping mechanism, but God won’t be rushed. And thinking like this only serves to slow down the process of effectively dealing with the trial and learning the lesson contained within.
As the verse above from Peter reveals, God has a purpose in allowing our trying seasons to drag out, and that purpose is a testing.
Trials equal testing.
Difficult seasons test and strengthen our faith. So even though we want to, we cannot leapfrog to a conclusion until we have—KEY WORD HERE—”endured.”
Enduring takes time. No one endures quickly. The very definition of the word is “to withstand, suffer, or persevere.”
The Bible contains many examples of those who have endured trials and made it through to the joy awaiting them.
Hebrews 12:2-3 (NLT) tells us how to weather the trying season by following the ultimate example.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up.”
Another word to notice from Peter’s verse is “many.” There are many trials to endure—not just one.
I so feel that right now.
Life just doesn’t stop and become all neat and tidy, as I think it should. I remember once telling someone, “I don’t think I should have trouble with my kids, because I’m already blind. I mean, isn’t that enough?”
That got a laugh. Because, of course, everyone has trouble with their kids from time to time, and all sorts of other troubles, too. They don’t line up neatly either and take turns. They overlap!
A partial list of my situations at present goes like this: my mother with memory loss requiring care from the family for over three years; my teenager who enjoys a good debate/argument (a future lawyer in the making), and a recent emergency surgery for my daughter. Oh, and the clothes dryer just broke.
Given all these, most days vision loss falls to the bottom of my concern pile.
It’s true, these many trials can absorb our days, but enduring and being truly glad (as the verse says) always seems to be a matter of re-focusing—a doable feat if we have the mind of Christ.
His mind sees sweeping pictures, instead of mere moments. His mind sees a stronger believer who has been tested. He sees the way these trials will shape us for service. And His Word promises joy ahead.
“So be truly glad.”
Lord, When situations threaten to sink my spirit, cause me to re-focus on You and the bigger picture You have for my life. You are the author of times and seasons, and You are on the throne during my difficult season right now. Thank You for the promises in Your Word that remind me of my hope and the joy ahead.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Journeying with hope,