Trials for a Christian

As a Christian, I have been promised an eternal life in Heaven with my Lord and Savior. There is no mention of an “easy” life–I will face trials. We can find many examples of this in the Bible in the lives of the saints. Look at the examples we have in Job, David, Paul and even Christ himself. I often comment that “nobody told me that adulting would be so hard”. I also jest that I’ve tried cancelling my subscription to adulthood but I was past the trial period.

Perception

Despite these comments, I don’t believe I’ve ever been fooled into thinking that life would get easier in X years. My childhood taught me that we all have our own cross to bear. For each of us, our cross can be an unbearable burden but it is our cross to bear. My brother’s cancer was his cross. His was a cross and a burden I cannot fathom and he took it in stride. Mike faced his life and carried his cross with an unmistakable joy. From an early age, he understood that he was here for a finite period of time until he was taken home. This has set a lasting example for me in my life. It also personifies what we read in 1 Peter.

A Bible Study

When I worked at a local credit union, I often struggled with what I saw as conflicting morality. It was a time when I frequently asked “Why am I here?” The stress was overwhelming and I turned to the Bible–namely 1 Peter 2:13-25. 1 Peter 2 teaches us about submitting to authority–Christians or otherwise–and helped me through that difficult time. For this reason, 1 Peter has become one of my favorite and most trusted books of the Bible. It’s where I still turn when I’m facing overwhelming trials.

1 Peter 1

In mid-August, I invited a few men that I know to study Peter with me. Admittedly, after 2 months, I’m still in 1 Peter 1. Every time I start reading through the chapter, I am stopped at 1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV).

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

These words serve not only as a reminder, but as an admonition to me.

A message from the teachers

I have a Scofield study Bible and in it, is an explanation of what suffering is in this context. To paraphrase, suffering:

  • Is disciplinary
  • Is purifying
  • A Christian’s patient suffering glorifies Christ

In his book, Living as a Christian: Teachings from First Peter, A.W. Tozier puts this chapter in the perspective of the angels looking down at us. He writes, “How can it be that such creatures as they should be treated as they are by the great God that loves them?” It’s a question I often ask myself and is included in his discussion of interpreting scripture.

He also includes a quote from Mark Twain in his discussion: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they don’t understand, but for me I have always noticed that the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”

What do I read in this?

So what is he (God, Peter, Tozier) telling us here? Admittedly, scripture often befuddles me and I have to read it over and over and over again. By nature, I have never been a very studious person. Many things come easy to me and in high school I rarely had to study to get an A. At my first two universities, I did the same and floated by. However, when I finally resumed my studies in my mid-30s, I could no longer do that. My mind had become so clouded at times, that I had to learn by repetition.

Reading fiction was no problem because it’s typically written for someone with an 8th grade education but text books are a different thing. In essence, the Bible is our textbook for living a Christian life. The words, sentences and chapters are clear on the surface, but how are they speaking to us? What is God trying to tell us?

A message for me

On the surface, I read about the trials we will face and to rejoice in those trials, keeping the end in sight. As I’ve read through this again and again, the message and the truth is clearer and even simpler: I am born again and I have an inheritance coming!

2018 has been a rough year with many trials. Despite all that has happened, I rejoice because this life is just a sliver compared to the life I look forward to. I rejoice because God is hold an “imperishable, undefiled and unfading inheritance…in heaven”. I don’t have to ask why I deserve this–only that it is true. So how do I rejoice? Honestly, I don’t know. I only know that I take comfort in knowing that this is only for a short time. Some day, I WILL spend eternity with my Savior. An eternity I cannot possibly comprehend, but one that WILL come.

And that’s truly all I can say for sure…

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