Trials are something that every believer should get accustomed to. The argument concerning trials has never been if they come, but when they come, and when they come, they are in various forms of all shapes and sizes. Trials serve in incredible role in the life of the believer as we are soon to explore.
Just ask Peter.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
(1 Peter 4:12 ESV)
Just ask Paul.
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
(2 Corinthians 11:24-27 ESV)
Trials are one of the many methods that God uses to sanctify us.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)
So we rejoice in our sufferings, not because they are pleasant, and certainly not because they are the most enjoyable. Rather we rejoice in our sufferings, because they have purpose, because they have meaning, and the purpose that they serve is greater than the pain that they bear. They are God’s tools in thus natural world to work in us somethiung eternal. Simply put, our pain is not in vain.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
(Luke 22:31-32 ESV)
Sifting wheat is a very simple and yet profound process. You place wheat at the top, then you sift it and then out comes is often (or rather hopefully) free of something, maybe impurities, lumps and things of the sort.
And I believe in this case, Satan is not seeking for Peter to be refined and purified, but rather for him to be broken up and seperated from something. Pastor John Piper makes that argument that Satan sought to seperate Peter from his faith.
And though his suffering won’t be pleasurable for him. Jesus instructs him that when and not if he turns, he should strengthen his brothers.
For Jesus to make such a statement is very profound. Jesus is essentially saying that this trial, difficulty or experience you are going through, is going to end. And when it ends, if we are to put ourselves into the feet of Peter in this case, then Jesus is saying that we are going to experience a certain difficulty, and Jesus is praying for us that we won’t fall away, then when this difficulty passes and we have not fallen away, we are to turn and strengthen our brothers. Strengthen the church. Share our testimony.
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
(Psalms 119:157 ESV)
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
(Revelation 12:10-11 ESV)
In short: God’s got this.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)
I read this book that I love, by Grace Thornton called I don’t wait Anymore. In it exists an analagoy for why things happen a certain way in this life. The analogy refers to an embroidered piece of material. When embroidering, opposite the side we’re working on exists an interesting, interlocking mess of tangled string of various colours so intricately woven that it manages to point to some shape, image or form yet not clearly. It is only by turning over the embroided cloth that we are able to see what exacly it is that the interwoven string hints at.
Such is the case with living here on earth, where an intricate timeline of interwoven events exists, spanning from the guy who cut infront of the line at the grocery store, to the gentleman who opened the door for you to the sudden death of a loved one. All of which hollistically seem to bear no connection, yet it is only when we get to glory that we see why it is exactly everything had to happen the way it did.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
(1 Corinthians 13:9-10 ESV)
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)