“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:42, NIV
The fiery trial was coming. Jesus knew it, and he was not okay with that, but rather submissive to it. It is okay to not want to go through the fiery trials, and it helps when we can see the good that comes from them. Hopefully all of us can agree that much good came from the cup Jesus drank.
Today, we look at four comforts, or encouragements for those times we undergo the fiery trial. Those trials will come, and we do not have to be okay with that, but we do need to be submissive to it.
1) Fiery Trials Are Not Unusual
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12
It amazes me, at times, to see the way some believers act as though Christ followers should have an exemption from suffering. “What? This cannot be happening to me!” Others live in a state of perpetual pretence, acting as though they never suffer, but rather float from victory to victory, and believing there must be something wrong with us and our faith. Otherwise we would enjoy the victorious life they are experiencing.
Stress and distress are normal realities of life, and indeed, they demonstrate that we are alive! Add to the normal challenges of life the outright persecution and opposition Christ followers experience from enemies of the cross, and the notion that we would be surprised by a fiery trial come upon us is absurd.
2) Fiery Trials Are Not Unexpected
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” – John 15:18-21, ESV
Not only are fiery trials not unusual for the disciple of Jesus, they are expected. Mark them on your calendar because they are coming. Jesus promised that as we take a stand for our faith we will be hated. And Jesus does not ask that we be spared these trials, but rather that we are kept from evil as we undergo them.
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” – John 17:14-17, ESV
Shortly after saying this, Jesus asks the Father to sanctify us in the truth.
3) Fiery Trials Are Not Unaccompanied
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20, ESV
“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” – Hebrews 13:6, ESV
In his wisdom, God allows trials to harass us, but we never face those trials alone. God’s grace will supply our every need.
4) Fiery Trials Are Not Unproductive
“In [the assurance of our salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV
Note the objective of our sufferings in the passage above. The purpose behind the trials to prove our faith to be genuine. Consider how those who make a pretence of faith wither and die when the fiery trials commence. We see this on a regular basis. A pretend faith is not sufficient to stand in the trials. Neither is a pretend faith worth enduring the trial. But a genuine faith will endure the trial even to the point of death.
And there is more. As we endure the trial, Christ’s glory is revealed, and the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us.
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. … Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” – 1 Peter 4:13-14, 16, ESV
Gold that is heated beyond its melting point is a denser gold that is cleansed of the less dense impurities – the dross. In that same way, God allows fiery trials to push us beyond our melting point to make us more dense or stout, to cleanse us of our less dense impurities:
“…to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:14, ESV
Victoriously in Christ!
Over to you: Where do you see God refining you in fiery trials?