This morning, as you and I often do, I was praying for my friends. These are women who love God, but each of them is in a trial. Some of them have been in their test for many years. Some of them are in the first shocking days of their trial. All of them want to honor God but wonder why they don’t see answers to their cries for help.
I don’t have an answer. I don’t presume to know why God doesn’t just do some small thing to make their lives so much easier. I’m not currently in this kind of trial, but I remember vividly how it feels.
Peter gave me some things to think about today as I read his first letter to “God’s elect exiles-” saints scattered, like grains of wheat, in inhospitable places. (1 Peter 1: 3-9)
He starts by praising God for our new birth into a living hope and into an inheritance.
This inheritance is kept for us in heaven. It can never perish, spoil or fade.
For now, we may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. But through our faith, we are shielded by God’s power until the end of time.
And what about these trials? They have come to prove the genuineness of our faith. Faith is of greater worth than gold which is perishable. This faith that we have will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Peter’s faith had faltered even while he was walking with Jesus. His own failures helped him understand how hard it can be. But he had also seen his faith and the faith of the believers after the resurrection and Pentecost. Little, vulnerable grains of wheat, but each containing life, both sustaining and reproductive.
We are among those exiles scattered, like grains of wheat, all over the world. Left to ourselves we would have no hope. But we have a life, in our lives, that causes us to endure, grow, and reproduce.
Here is how Peter ends this section. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Yes, we have trials. Some of them are terribly hard to bear. But let’s keep our faith in God. We’ll let our faith grow through these hard times. We look to God to fill us with hope, knowing that our reward is safely kept for us in heaven.
My prayer for us today is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the same day I wrote this post, my husband was answering a friend who is in a terrible struggle. These were some of the words he shared with his friend.
“You have some of the same struggles that some of the great Bible characters had: “Why does so much trial and testing come to me when I am trying to live the right kind of life?” The Psalms are full of that.
Even so, here’s what you can know for sure:
- It’s not punishment for things you did wrong. (That only happens rarely, and usually in the form of the consequences of our sin when we cling to it stubbornly.)
- It is not happening because you don’t have the formula right. Formulas are religion, not faith.
- It’s useless to compare your trials to anyone else, even Jesus. They are your trials. You feel the pain. You have the questions.
“About the higher purpose. The clearest idea about that, in the Bible, is Romans 8.28:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
“It’s hard for me, as it is for you, to always feel like that is true, especially when I see rampant abuse, annihilation of innocent children, senseless suffering. But it’s even challenging for me when it comes to personal matters that cause me pain. What I try to do is to follow what one sister said years ago: ‘Father, I do not always understand. But I trust you.’ God is never the author of evil. He cannot be. So, when pain or evil, either one, come into our lives, he promises to bring good out of it for those he has called. That includes you, me, and all of us.”