Through Fiery Trials

1 Peter 4:12 ESV
“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 also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

When sorrow enters our life, it has the potential to be used in a rich and powerfully spiritual way. However, we must accept sorrow in the spirit of submission, faith, and love as opposed to rebellion and complaint. If we can do this, sorrow has the capacity to bring a great blessing; after all, God designs the patterns of our lives, and a life that has never known sorrow is a life that has never experienced the strength of God’s sustenance.

As believers in Christ, we should never consider sorrow a retribution, or punishment for sin. This is much different than when we receive chastisement or correction from the Lord (Hebrews 12:6), for the Almighty deals with us as any loving father would. Punishment represents an intentional infliction of a penalty; which if taken in context of this discussion, would refer to payment for sin. Since this cannot be, as Jesus has made the payment for our sins through His death on the cross, sorrow can never be viewed as a form of punishment from our heavenly Father.

It would take a heart already moving away from God to believe that He would inflict punishment on His children for their sin, for by doing so is to accuse God of not only acting in a vindictive manner, but to also challenge the work of Christ on the cross. Make no mistake, He would certainly be within His right not to show mercy on us; yet His love remains (Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 1:3).

As His children, we must remain faithful in His promises (Romans 8:28) and also recognize that times of fiery trials are not always about chastisement or correction. Sometimes these trials are simply part of our education. God uses these times to further develop us for His purposes, just as Peter and the other apostles were “sifted” by Satan so they too could be developed for what lie ahead (Luke 22:31-32).

The passage used in this post presents a wonderful allusion to the three Hebrew faithful—Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego—who were placed in the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. While the evil one meant it for harm, the fire only burned away their bonds and set them free; and it also brought them into the presence of the Lord and His protection.

Let the same hold true for you. Allow the trials of sorrow and suffering free you from the wordly bonds so you may gain a sense of His presence in your life. Instead of thinking it “strange” when the fiery trials come in to your life, accept them as from the Lord, and in so doing, when you come through these times you will gain an even more awareness of Christ living within you.