Sometimes I wonder.
And then I wander.
Often at the same time.
I wonder what things will be like when faith is refined as in a fire and turns out pure gold. Not just mine, but also the faith of all believers. What will this faith be like? What will it feel like? How will our approach to life change?
These trials can feel like scalding hot rod touching my arm, sometimes getting to that stage where it can be either hot or cold, I can’t tell which, it just ends with a burn. But when the burn is gone and a scar is left, whether a hole in the palm of my hand or a pierce to my side, the scar is a reminder that I have suffered as Christ has, and I want to consider it a privilege for I have been chosen to suffer this way to proclaim the message of Christ through the refining of my faith. I have been chosen to live with the mind of Christ to change the sinful mindsets that are a part of the world. I have been chosen as have all the disciples before me to suffer as Christ willingly endured for the sake of you and I. You too have been chosen. I urge you to accept this calling, my friend, my brother and sister. To live out your calling is by far the most enormously fulfilling way to live.
James 1.2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows it’s true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do it’s work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
I am currently reading a biography of the apostle Paul’s life by John Pollock. It so accurately and evocatively describes both the physical and emotional trials that Paul faced. Imagine what the trial of Paul and Silas being locked in prison together would have felt like. They have just endured thirty-nine lashes each to their already severely scared backs and had just began to shepherd the burgeoning church at Philippi and could be forced to leave the city before knowing that it would be able to stand and endure persecution with the apostles to guide it. Paul felt for his church as a parent to their child, emotionally experiencing “the pains of chid birth” for them. To leave his child before knowing that she could grow in her faith without Him would have been excruciating. When locked in prison with full knowledge of this and experiencing intense physical pain, Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God. They endured this trial and praised God. Suddenly there was an earthquake only at the site where the prison was and all the prisoners were able to escape. Awesome, hey? Then Paul and Silas deliberately did not run away from the prison but willingly remained prisoners to save the prison guard. They remained faithful, good, and kind throughout and despite their trial, pain and hurt. I am inspired by their testimony and I hope you are too. When we go through trials and temptations, let us persevere in our faith, sticking close to the knowledge of both who we are in Christ, as well as God’s faithfulness and goodness. Let us act in this knowledge of who we are and not act spontaneously based on hurt or anger.
We have hope that Christ is with us and through whatever trials we go through they help to develop righteousness in us and through our response reveal Christ to the world.
Jesus will come back after the whole world has heard the gospel. (Matt 24.14). Our perseverance throughout trials and the grace we give to others reveals Christ to them.
Grace and Peace be with you, always.
Pollock, John (2012) The Apostle: A Life of Paul, Published by David C Cook, Colorado Springs.