Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you… (I Peter 4:12)
I am constantly surprised by my level of suffering. I don’t say this as a victim or as a martyr or to make you feel sorry for me. Or even to complain. But seriously, when I look back on this sweet little life of mine, I really think I’ve had a lot of hard knocks. (Keep in mind, the entire picture is glorious and I really do feel that every day.) But really, lots and lots of hard stuff.
And I was thinking about people I know who don’t care to explore their spiritual side and therefore don’t claim to follow Jesus and how some of their lives seem to be filled with a certain ease that I can’t seem to grasp.
And it’s occurred to me how my life must be so very unattractive to people looking in…I can’t think of one person who doesn’t know Jesus looking at my current circumstances and thinking, “Wow, I so want to be a Christian if that’s what it looks like!” No one would say that. I couldn’t even say that. (Granted, I’m in a sucky season.)
I said to a friend just last week, “Is it my imagination, or are our lives harder than those who don’t believe in Jesus?” I already knew the answer, but it helps to hear it come from someone else from time to time. And she replied, resoundingly, “Yes! I wish we didn’t have to think about two-thirds of the things we have to think about. And of course, we have an enemy!” Oh yeh, I forget that one.
And then there’s what we’re told in Scripture:
…but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:13)
Author Larry Crabb says that while Christ is preparing a place for you and me, the Holy Spirit is preparing us to meet Jesus face to face. And our trials are what complete us and prepare us.
There is a reason that our lives may at times feel harder than those who don’t even think about God. Much needs to be accomplished in us to prepare us for our Lord. And that takes time and patience and working things out in ways that we can’t even fathom here and now. But here’s where faith comes in because we must choose to believe that whatever we go through here and now, it will be so very worth it there and then.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)