1 Peter 4:12 NCV
When we’re facing challenging circumstances, we can sometimes be surprised that these things are happening to us. We ask ‘why me?’. But the Bible tells us: ‘Do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory’ (vv.12-13 NCV). Times of testing can feel strange and uncomfortable, but they are normal and necessary. They are how we grow in grace. They are how God equips and prepares us to do great things in His kingdom. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases Peter’s words: ‘Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.’ We can actually rejoice in our times of suffering, rather than complaining about them. But how can we be glad that we’re being tested? We can rejoice in the fact that we’re experiencing what Jesus experienced, and we can be grateful that God’s using the tests to make us more like Him. His tests strengthen our faith, purify us, and cause us to grow spiritually. The Bible says: ‘We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles’ (2 Corinthians 4:17 NCV). If we could see the blessing that’s waiting for us on the other side of the trial, we’d stop feeling sorry for ourselves and start praising God for what He’s doing in us.
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