How Do You Deal With Suffering? Part 4

Grace For The Journey

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20Jan For the last three days we have been looking at the biblical way of dealing with suffering.  We have learned about the principle of suffering – that even Christians will experience times of trouble, tragedy, sorrow, and pain but that God can used that for His glory and our ultimate good.  We also learned about the purpose of trials – God allows trials in our lives to refine their faith.

Today’s blog will the product of trials – We gain the biblical joy by looking to the Savior with faith, hope, and love.

The result of our doing this will be “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Whose praise, glory, and honor is Peter talking about?  Since God alone is worthy of praise, glory, and honor in the ultimate sense, that His praise alone is in view. But there is a secondary sense in which God will reward believers at the coming of Christ with praise (1 Corinthians 4:5; Matthew 25:21, 23), glory (Romans 2:7, 10; Colossians 3:4), and honor (Romans 2:7, 10; 2 Timothy 4:8).  We share these because of our identification with Christ (Romans 8:17), and we will properly cast all honors down at His feet.  Yet, we can endure trials knowing what the future holds for us who are in Christ.

In the last two blogs, we discovered that God takes all whom He loves through trials; and that He does it to refine our faith.  Today we will see that . . .

We can have joy during times of suffering

By looking to the Savior and His salvation.

Peter was led to write “in this you greatly rejoice” (1:6).  This should lead us to ask, “In what?”  The answer to that question is stated in verses 3-5 – In our great salvation.  Even though we are temporarily distressed by our times of suffering and trials, we can look to our Savior and the salvation He has provided, which we already have begun to enjoy, but which we won’t experience in full until He returns.

How do we gain this joy during times of suffering?

I am glad you asked … the Bible teaches we do it by . . .

  • Looking to the Savior with faith.

We’ve already seen that times of suffering and trials are meant to purify our faith.  Peter says (1:8) that inexpressible joy in trials comes through believing in Jesus even though we do not see Him.  We need to understand that faith is not an automatic response. Neither is it passive endurance.  Faith is actively choosing to trust God in spite of my circumstances.  Faith is putting my weight down on the firm promises of God.  Charles Spurgeon said that trials aren’t just to “burn out the dross, but also to burn in the promises.”

In a time of suffering and trials, it seems as if Christ is not there with us.  So by faith we must say, He promised “to be with me even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), He promised “never to leave or forsake me’ (Hebrews 13:5), so I lay hold of Him right now by faith.”  As Jesus told Thomas, who didn’t believe in His resurrection until he saw Jesus with his own eyes, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). That’s us!  We will be blessed when we look to the Savior by faith even when we’re in difficult times of sorrow and trials.  It’s our choice and duty.

  • Looking to the Savior with hope.

Note the future look of these verses.  I’ve already mentioned the temporary nature of our trials in light of eternity.  Peter mentions “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  That means His coming, but it brings out a subtle nuance that is important to grasp, namely, that Jesus is present but unseen right now, but the day is coming when He will be revealed. (Peter repeats this word, in noun or verb form, in 1:5, 7, 13; 4:13; 5:1.)

In addition, Peter emphasizes the future sense of our salvation (1:9).  In the New Testament, there are three tenses of our salvation.  Once we have accepted the redemptive work of Christ on the cross and empty tomb and have asked Him to be our Savior and Lord, we can say, “I have been saved from sin’s penalty” (John 3:36; Titus 3:5-8).  But our salvation does stop there.  All who have been saved will be able to say, “I am being saved from sin’s power” (1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:2).  But our salvation does end there.  Some day we will be saved from sin’s presence (Romans 5:9-10; 13:11; 1 Peter 1:9).  Thus in times of suffering and trial, we look with hope to the Savior who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us completely when He returns.

  • Looking to the Savior with love.

Peter states in 1:8, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.”  Love for Jesus Christ in response to His ultimate love for us as seen in the cross, is the central motivation for the Christian life.  It’s so easy to drift into the place of the church in Ephesus, which Jesus commended by saying, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who called themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.” Wow!  What more could you want, Lord? Jesus gets to the heart of the issue when He concludes, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:2-4).

It’s easy to drift there in your marriage, isn’t it?  You’re faithful to one another.  You live together in relative harmony.  You function as husband and wife, you raise your children, you pay the bills and do the other things required to run a household.  But somewhere the romance went cold.  You need to rekindle the delight in your spouse you once knew.

It’s the same with the Lord.  We can be dutifully living the Christian life, but we’ve lost the excitement of our relationship with Christ.  I’m talking here not just about commitment, which is the core of love, but also feelings which stem from that commitment.  I agree with Jonathan Edwards, that ‘the core of religion is emotional.”  Our hearts need to be filled with love for Jesus Christ.  Times of suffering and trials cause us to reflect upon all that Jesus has done, remember how good, faithful, and loving He is to us, and revive our love and appreciation for His presence, power, and provisions at every turn of our lives.

How do we cultivate and maintain that kind of love for our unseen Savior? Three suggestions:

First, Spend time alone with Him.  You can’t cultivate love for your mate if you never spend time alone together.  If you want to love the Lord more, spend time alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.

Second, Obey Him.  In our day of “sloppy grace,” people think that obedience is legalism and has no place under grace.  Those who think so need to read their Bibles. Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10). The apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).  If you are disobeying God, you will not be able to love Him as you should.

Third, Come frequently to the Lord’s table.  It is a time to look to the Savior and the salvation He provided for us at the price of His blood.  He knew that we tend to forget, so He instructed us to do it often “in remembrance of Him.”  It’s a time to receive His love and express your love back to Him. As you look to Christ and His salvation, as seen in those elements, you will experience His joy, even during the difficult times of suffering and trials.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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