1 Peter 4:12-14
2 Timothy 2:12
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Pastor John MacBeath was a Scottish pastor. In his devotional titled:
“Nothing is more beautiful than our Lord’s foresight” he writes:
“When he sent His disciples to prepare the Passover, there was found an upper room furnished and prepared. He had thought it all out. His plans were not made only for that day. He was always in advance of time.
When the disciples came back from fishing, Jesus was on the seashore with a fire or coals and fish laid thereon. He thinks of the morning duties before you are awake. He is there before you. His anticipations are all along the way of life before you.
After the resurrection the disciples were bewildered, and the way looked black. But the angel said, ‘Behold, he goes before you into Galilee’. He is always ahead, thinking ahead, preparing ahead. Take this text with you into the future, take it into today’s experience. ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid……I go to prepare a place for you. He will bring you to your appointed place, and you will find your appointed resources.”
Chuck Swindoll adds this comment:
“Peter doesn’t open this section with ‘beloved’ for nothing – this is an address to faithful believers, not disobedient saints or phony frauds. He also describes the ‘fiery ordeal’ as occurring ‘among you,’ ‘upon you,’ and ‘to you.’ This isn’t something that accidentally swept them up, like innocent victims who got caught up in the mob stampede by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Make no mistake, the fiery ordeal they were experiencing came upon them because they were believers.
Ironically, a lot of Christians believe they should be fireproof. Their first reaction is just the thing Peter rejects – surprise! Too often I hear objections like ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me!’ or ‘Why doesn’t God protect me from these things?’ or ‘Why is God allowing this to happen now?’ But Peter responds to this normal reaction of surprise with an important reminder: the fiery ordeal comes upon believers for their testing.
Tests are normal when we’re involved in the pursuit of intellectual growth or development skills. Why should it alarm us if the master Teacher tests us as we follow His instruction in the curriculum of Christlikeness?’
Poem by Robert Browning Hamilton
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And never a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.
Paul Billheimer “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows” (1977)
Insight into God’s eternal purpose for each Christian in the midst of life’s greatest adversities.
“One of the most amazing commentaries on the purposefulness of suffering in the economy of God is set forth in Hebrews 2:10 ‘For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.’
‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.’ (Hebrews 5:8) In Christ’s case, according to Maclaran, ‘His perfecting was not the perfecting of moral character but the completion of His equipment for His work as Leader and Originator of our salvation. Before He suffers He has the pity of God. After He suffers He has the compassion of a man.’
If the many sons whom Christ was to bring to glory and rulership had to be prepared and perfected for that glory by suffering, their Captain must lead the way by having His human experience perfected in the same way. The fact that Christ’s human experience had to be perfected by suffering proves that no suffering is purposeless, but that it is endemic in God’s economy. There is no way that Christlike character can be formed in man without suffering because he cannot be decentralized otherwise. If he will not suffer, if he determines to evade it, if he refuses to allow the life of nature and of self to go to the cross, to that extent he will remain hard, self-centered, unbroken, and therefore unChristlike. By his self-will one may escape a certain quality of pain, that which accompanies voluntary self-immolation, but in so doing he becomes the victim of a far greater pain, that of self-worship. He cannot escape both. Someone has said, ‘There are things which even God cannot do for us unless he allows us to suffer.’
Today the American believer’s afflictions are mostly physical, financial, or in the area of personality conflicts. Is this type suffering included in “these light afflictions” which Paul said are working for us? The answer may be that it is not always the character of the afflictions which determines its spiritual value but rather the length of its continuation and one’s reaction to it.
It seems to some that a life which is ended swiftly by an act of martyrdom may be more heroic and a greater testimony of deathless love than a long life of faithfulness in the ordinary trials and tribulations of daily life. But may it not be that God is obtaining a similar quality of selfless devotion and sacrificial love through patient endurance of the routine sorrow, suffering, disappointments, heartaches, and pain which He permits as a part of His loving child-training? By a proper reaction while in the school of suffering, they may be learning and demonstrating a quality of agape love which is preparing them for rulership as truly as though they had suffered martyrdom. On the other hand, yielding to self-pity, depression, and rebellion is a waste of sorrow. Those who have unsuccessfully sought healing and who submit to resentment, discontent, impatience, and bitterness against God are wasting what God intended for growth in love and thus for enhanced rank in the eternal kingdom.