I could declare it “The Time of Sorrow.” Not just for us, but more importantly for many of those we love dearly.
It is with near-certainty that I declare that you, too, have probably been through a season (or twelve) like that. At every turn there seems to be, another grieving, hurting friend. Messages bearing bad news arrive by the dozen through e-mails, texts, and calls. There is always a visitation, a funeral, a mourning friend. It can feel like the world is declaring, “Here I am again; I’ve come to pull you down with me.”
But the Word gave me is this truth:
“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.”
1 Peter 4:12-13
We are guaranteed hardship as a result of living in a fallen world, but in God’s gracious sovereignty, all toward revelations of His glory!
Have you seen a farmer prepare a new field? He travels over the expanse of hard ground to retrieve a rather frightening machine. With twirling blades, he pierces the surface of the earth, breaks up clumps of clay, and transforms it into light, loose soil perfect for spreading his seed. He takes the unyielding ground below and transforms it so that he might grow something beautiful and nourishing where scraggly weeds once thrived.
Suffering is certain.
For some folks, when their hearts are attacked by trials, blades piercing through, thick scars commemorate the site of the wounds. With every hardship, they become a little tougher, stonier, and withdrawn.
For those of us who call Jesus “Lord,” that tilling and overturning does something different. Our stony hearts become hearts of flesh. When the world slashes our hearts open, they are transformed into yielding ground ready to be sowed with seeds of truth, watered with grace.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ”
1 Peter 6-7
Take heart in your suffering, and know that you are being grown, cared for, and refined through every painful moment. Praise God that when we’re cracked open and left raw, we’re in position to produce a harvest of good fruit beyond what would have been possible if we’d been left alone.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.