Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Tests, trials, temptations and troubles are part of our life. The Word of God says, ‘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.’(1 Peter 5:10) Suffering, tests, trials, temptations and troubles are not events we look forward to. But they are the ones which builds our character, our faith, our confidence in God, strength in our inner being and teach us to cry out to God to save us from our sins.
Throughout the Scriptures we have God assuring us of His presence, His goodness, His kindness, His mercy, His faithfulness, His protection and His love for us, both in our good times and our tough times. As a shepherd boy, King David speaks of our Lord as a Good Shepherd who restores our soul by making us lie down in green pastures; by leading us beside quiet waters and guiding us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3) Our God, who has a name above all names, is our Father who takes care of us like a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
Apostle Peter prophesied about such times in his epistle by asking, ‘But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps.’(1 Peter 2:20, 21) As Christian we are called to follow our Lord in every aspect of our life, which includes suffering, as He has set a perfect example before us through His very own life.
‘Therefore since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil desires but rather for the will of God.’ (1 Peter 4:1, 2.). So the suffering that we go through is not without God’s knowledge but part of His plan for us to be conformed in the pattern of His own Son, Jesus and not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. As Apostle James said, the trials we go through, tests our faith to develop our perseverance. It helps us to be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.’ (1 Peter 4:12,13). Our sufferings produce in us a rich harvest of righteousness because only through such times can we be partakers of our Lord’s divine nature. So we can rejoice that our sufferings are not in vain but is for our good in the greater plan of God. Also, know that our brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. So let us submit to God, resist the devil and stand firm in faith.
Let us draw nearer to God so that He can draw nearer to us and gather us under the shelter of His wings. Let us accept our Lord’s invite to ‘come to Him, all who are weary and tired’, who hunger and thirst for righteousness; who are poor in spirit; who mourn; who are persecuted because of righteousness, so as to enjoy the kingdom of heaven. He has put eternity in our hearts by the deposit of His Spirit in us as a guarantee of all that is to follow. In this Year of Restoration, let us move forward in faith that the one who promised will bring it to pass.
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