12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12
Have you ever been taken by surprise, even though you knew what was coming? Once when we were boating at the lake, a thunderstorm was fast approaching. But we took our time heading back to the boat ramp, trying to enjoy every minute of wake boarding we had left. When we arrived at the boat ramp, the storm unleashed its fury us. The winds were gusting, the rain was pouring down and lightning was striking only a few feet from us as we tried to load our boat on the trailer. We were taken by surprise by this storm—even though we knew it was coming.
When we accept Jesus Christ in our life and start to follow Him, the battles in our lives begin. Satan wages war on us, continually seeking ways to make us fall from our faith (1 Peter 5:8). We will suffer just as our Lord has suffered (1 Peter 4:13), but He gave us an example to follow (John 13:15). The world hated our Lord, and we will be hated by the world because of Him (John 17:14-19). We will go through hardships for doing the right thing. We will lose friendships because of the One we follow and obey, and we will be despised for no good reason.
We often wonder why we suffer. Some of our sufferings are a direct result of our actions (Genesis 3:2-7) or other people’s actions (1 King 21:5-14). Yet many times our sufferings are permitted by God to discipline us and to remove our impurities because He love us (Hebrews 12:6-11). These afflictions will refine us as gold is refined by fire, and our faith will be strengthened, resulting in praise, glory and honor to the God we serve. In this we should rejoice and give thanks to our Lord. This side of eternity is but a brief moment in which we endure trials and tribulations to prove that our faith in Christ is genuine, resulting in the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Therefore, let’s not be taken by surprise when sufferings and testings come our way. Romans 5:3-5 explains it this way. “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.“
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have you given thanks to our Lord in your sufferings?
- When we suffer, we are comforted by our God who is the Father of all comfort. He comforts us so we could comfort others with the comfort we were given (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Have you comforted others in their sufferings?
- Sufferings have a purpose in our lives which is hard to see when we are going through the midst of them. Have you taken time to look back on your sufferings to see how the Lord was by your side and the good came out of them?
- While we are going through our trials, people around us are watching our behavior and conduct. The way we act will show them who we really are. This is a way to witness to others. Have you been Christ’s ambassador in your trials?
Have two people stand in front of each other. You can do this in sets of pairs at the same time or do it a pair at a time to make sure no one slips up. One person of the pair will be the “mirror/reflection” of the other for one full minute. This can get pretty funny depending on how creative you want to get. A minute isn’t long, but it can feel long sometimes. Make sure that everyone has a chance to play both roles. Feel free to adjust the time frame for your crowd.
When finished, notice what was hard about this activity. What do you have to do to truly be the reflection of the person in front of you? If you take your eyes off of your person, can you truly be their reflection? During trials, there is a world or ways that distractions get in your way. Where are your eyes cast and where does you focus land? Is that hard? What can make it easier? How can you prepare yourself to be a mirror of Christ in all circumstances—easy and hard?
The Global Workers (missionaries) of our church family understand their family will face unique challenges, even as they get to see and experience amazing things. Pray for the dozens of children in our global worker families as they learn languages and are shaped by multiple cultures. Pray for faith and wisdom for them, and for their parents.