The good work of trials
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
I don’t like trials. Initially, I respond badlyto them. I resist them, deny they are happening, and sometimes, get angry. They really suck.
And the intensity of trials (nowhere to run to escape them) causes us to think they are evil. They are only present because God’s blessing is absent. In fact, the reverse is true.
God tells Ananias to lay hands on Paul of Tarsus, a man who had sorely persecuted the church (Acts 9):
13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Emphasis mine).
Paul, himself, states in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church”
What’s the deal, God? Why are you sending pain into the life of a guy you just converted? Shouldn’t he become a king or something?
1 Pet. 2 states:
20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps …
So, even we are called to enter into suffering. But, not purposeless suffering. It is the means by which God disciplines us into acceptable sons and daughters, properly trained in this life to be princes and princesses ruling in the next.
Our humiliation in this life is the result of sin, but orchestrated for our benefit to train us.
Where is God when we go through trials? We are pitied, felt sorry for, and spoken of in quiet tones. In this world, the trials Christians suffer seem shameful, as if God rejected us. The truth is, the trials we go through is a test of our faith, but a judgment on those who are not counted worthy as sons and daughters to go through these trials. God does not abandon us during trials (despite feelings and confusion); He is intimately connected to us in them.
We can respond in many ways, but a good close reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John will reveal the opposition and difficulties Christ faced on this earth. Hold fast to Him. Remember, Jesus Christ, himself, is interceding for you and me. Pray for yourself. Pray for me. We share His name, therefore, we share His sufferings.
Jesus, himself, led a lousy, deprived, short, and, seemingly meaningless life to outward observers. But all the trials, testing, and temptations led to the ultimate glory to God … The death of the Lamb on the tree. And without the death, there is no sonship for us whatsoever. We would be lost for all eternity. His work is the blessed work of the cross. It was the epic, total destruction and disarming of the powers of evil. And, it couldn’t have happened unless Jesus suffered unto death.
So, when people think you’re suffering is bad, sad, or shameful, tell them that it is the very proof that God is your Father. Tell them He has counted you worthy to share in Christ’s sufferings in this life so you can share His glory in the next.