“A Word for this Week” Pastor Bill Mugnolo: HARP Pastoral Advisor
Week of May 29-June 4, 2017: “Suffering Has a Purpose” … 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-11
When we were growing up, we were put through experiences that we didn’t like. But we went through them because, we were told, they were “for your own good”. We had to eat our vegetables, learn proper hygiene, use correct etiquette, and so on. Maybe, as children, we asked “why” about all this. But when we grew up what we had learned finally made sense to us.
As believers in Christ, Our God puts us through an experience throughout our lives that we’re not going to like as we are called to suffer and for the sake of Christ. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us that this suffering is the norm not the exception and that it will be a “fiery trial”. The mere mention of fire might make you think of that scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where the Wicked Witch points her lighted broom at Dorothy’s straw- filled friend and says, “How about a little fire, scarecrow?”
Yes, these “trials by fire” may well be painful. But they serve a greater, godly purpose for the believer in Christ. God, first of all, doesn’t put us through these in order to incinerate us—as if we were made of straw. Instead, our fiery trials serve to refine us, like precious gold, so as to remove the impurity of our sins from us (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Secondly, our trials serve to prepare for the world that is yet to come (1 Peter 4:13). Just as those disciplinary experiences of childhood that we so often didn’t like or understand served to prepare us for the adult world, our fiery trials of the spirit serve to prepare us for an eternal glory that is still ahead (Romans 8:18).
Then, thirdly, the suffering of this present world doesn’t last. All times of trial and tribulation will cease when Jesus returns and wipes every tear away from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). But the Lord also knows when to lift us out of trying times while we are yet here in this present world once they have accomplished His purposes (1 Peter 5:10, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Through it all, even as we are in the midst of painful trials, our God will exalt us—just as He once did with His Son, Jesus (1 Peter 5:6-7, Philippians 2:9-11). The Lord Himself, upon the cross, suffered in a way far greater than we will ever know. He knows what we are going through (Hebrews 4:15-16). Though we, like children, might question “Why?”, it will all, when we reach the “adulthood” of eternity, finally make sense.