Much has been made about trials and suffering in this new age. Since Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago, an old covenant was forgotten, and a new covenant was ushered in (Hebrews 8:13). Should Christians suffer? Should people who have a relationship with an all-powerful, all-knowing, present God go through tough times here on earth? In some way, it does not make sense unless you have critically gone through the scriptures and especially the letters that Apostle Paul wrote to his respective audiences.
Paul went through severe hardship; for example, on one occasion, he went out of the frying pan and straight into a hot fire. He was shipwrecked at the island of Malta, and as if that was not enough, he was bitten by a snake. (Acts 27:27-28:5) Now, this is just but one of the many trials that Paul went through as he faithfully obeyed his call to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the gentiles. He was not doing anything wrong; in fact, he was obeying God!
Trials are like Gold
Peter tells us that the trials that we go through take us through some kind of refining. He ably gives the analogy of the process gold goes through from the moment it is mined from deep within the earth to the moment it is made into a particular ornament or accessory having been proven not only in terms of the quality but also durability (1 Peter 1:7). An even more interesting way to look at it is not only to accept the trials as they become but also to rejoice in them (James 1:2).
Rejoice comes from the French word “rejoiss” meaning to experience happiness intensely. Rejoicing in trials seems almost paradoxical. Why would you derive pleasure from an episode of pain? One of these days, I was taking a walk, and the Lord reminded me of a time my brother was working out. He would lift weights consistently and eat strictly, as he sought to achieve his muscle goals. This analogy can be readily applied to the life of a Christian.
No Pain No Gain
In the activity of working out, one thing is held constant, the importance of your diet. No matter what your goals are, whether you want to gain mass or you want to lose weight, you must eat properly. In the process of gaining mass, your muscles go through a lot of stress, and this leaves your body generally sore. Upon eating correctly, the muscle is built back stronger than it was before. Similarly, our souls go through the same.
Jesus assured us that in this world, we would have trouble (John 16:33). At the point of the trial, we go through moments of stress but what is more important than the stress is our diet. The word of God is food for the soul, and if we do not feed properly, then we are wasting a good work out session if I can say in a bit of humour. As the passage in 1 Peter 1:7-8 tells us we are being refined and made stronger but only if you feed properly. Because the trial is guaranteed, let us prepare our hearts for what is in our control, and when we change our perspective on the matter then it becomes a lot easier to do what James says, to rejoice in your trials. So, don’t waste your work out.