Over the past 12 weeks, I’ve been studying with a group of ladies the book of 1 Peter. The recurring theme that has really stood out to me over and over again is rejoicing in the suffering and trials that God allows. This isn’t necessarily the main overall theme of the book, however, because of circumstances God has brought us through recently, this is the message I’m getting.
You see, for at least 6 of those 12 weeks, our family has been plagued with illness. Nothing of the major sort, but all kinds of viruses and infections – it started out with fevers, leading to congestion and coughs that will not go away for weeks still, croup, ear aches, pink eye and bronchitis. For a family that rarely gets sick, especially for more than 48 hours at a time, this has indeed been a true trial. Not to mention this mom is just 4 weeks away from adding another member to our family!
In the past, I’ve really struggled with my attitude when we’ve gotten sick – though it would be typically only for a day or so, if it was prolonged, I’ve always allowed bitterness and frustration, anger to surface, and it has shown a LOT in my attitude. It’s not fair! How come my husband gets to lay around in bed when he’s sick and if I get sick I have to carry on? Why are we still sick?! and etc. Not exactly the most mature or gracious attitude for anyone to have, let alone someone who claims their inheritance as a Christ-follower!
However, during this time of trial (for indeed, I would definitely classify it as a trial!), I began to realize something about my approach. Somehow, I was able to make it through most of the days with a positive, encouraging (hopefully) attitude, not allowing despair to get the better of me. Oh, I still had my curl-up-in-the-corner-and-cry moments, and I still fell into the “Will we ever get better?!” pit. But by God’s grace, I was not reacting to the circumstances. Rather, I believe that He was showing me through His word how to properly respond.
1 Peter 4:1-2 says “Since, therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
Submitting to times of suffering and trial, being self-controlled, sober-minded, watchful in prayer (1 Peter 4:7), waiting on the LORD – all of these bring us to a place where our desire for the flesh, for sin, lessens – and our desire for more of HIM increases.
John Bunyan wrote “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease a prayer”.
1 Peter 4:12 “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. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
We should not be surprised when trials come upon us. We are Christ’s followers, and he himself went through trials and tribulations we cannot even begin to fathom – for our sake. He set the example for us of how to respond in such times. And though he is perfect, and we are far from it, yet we need still to follow his example of submission, rejoicing and giving glory to God.
When you’re in a tight spot, struggling with the issues that surround you, having a hard time with family members, dealing with hardened hearts or sickness – whatever it may be, what is your first response? Is it to go to God in prayer? Is it to hand the whole situation over to His capable hands?
1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Do you trust HIM to handle it, and seek to do good? Are you leaning on His promises?
As a family we’ve been listening to a radio drama version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Just the other day we were at the part where Christian and Hopeful have strayed from the path and end up in the dungeon of Giant Despair.
After a few weeks of being physically beaten and trodden down with evil words, Christian and Hopeful spend the night in prayer and praise. As the morning dawns, Christian suddenly remembers a key that he has had all along – the Key of Promise. They wonder at why it was that he suddenly remembered the Key, and Hopeful states that perhaps it is because of the time they spent in prayer and praising their God.
No matter the locks it faces, the Key of Promise grows or shrinks to fit the lock. Sometimes, because of a lack of use, the Key takes more effort and persistence by the believer to make the lock yield – but always, at the strengthening of faith in prayer, the locks give way, and often, with the effort of more than one applied to it.
Colossians 1:9, 11-12 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding; 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
If you are going through the fire, be encouraged, take up the promises of God, pray and persist in faith! Bring others into your circle to support and encourage you. Seek community, accountability, restoration, and above all, seek the Lord.
Lauren has been a wife for almost 9 years, and homeschooling mother of ALMOST four little ones. She seeks to spend her days teaching her children about their loving God and Saviour through his Word and her actions, that she may be a light to them and we may be the servant of all. Her favourite activities include spending quality time with her husband (date nights!), homeschooling, baking, sewing and crafting/playtime with the kids. She also loves to encourage others with what the Lord has been teaching her through personal experience as a mother, wife and daughter of the king. You can follow her on twitter @ServingFromHome and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ServingFromHome. You can also find her blog at http://www.servingfromhome.com <http://www.servingfromhome.com/> .