Sometimes problems, suffering, disappointments, and confusion come slowly into our lives. At other times they come like bolts from the blue: unexpected, unpredicted, and unwelcomed. The people of God are not exempt from such suffering and trials. But what are we to do when life strikes a minor chord?
One of the main things I love about Holy Scripture is its realism. While the prosperity preacher may give the impression that if we only have enough faith we will be healthy, wealthy, and successful, and will enjoy our best life now~ But the reality is that at any moment we may be plunged into the severest trial or the deepest disappointment and suffering of our lives.
As a pastor I deal with heartbreaking situations on a daily basis: terminal illness; the death of a child; loss of a job; a teen on drugs; an unfaithful spouse; subtle and not so subtle forms of persecution and hostility against those seeking to live godly lives.
Suffering is one of the great themes of 1 Peter. That letter was written to Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, and who are going through various fiery trials. (1 Peter 1:6; 4:12) As Peter concludes his epistle he gives a brilliant summary: “And after you have of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11). From these verses we can learn some important lessons when life strikes a minor chord.
Suffering and trials are only temporary. They are only for “a little while.”
Suffering preceeds glory. That is the biblical pattern (1 Peter 1:11; Luke 24:26; Romans 8:18). First the night and then the day; first the storm and then the peace; first the tears and then the joy; first the cross and then the crown; first the suffering and then the glory.
Our gracious God will strengthen and establish His people in the midst of the suffering and trial. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The sufferings and trials are for a divine purpose. God tests us not to disapprove us, but to approve us. God is glorified when His people rejoice in Christ in these difficult circumstances (1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:1 3). And in the midst of our suffering we have the supreme example “Because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).