Sunday, July 31, 2011
Trial by Fire
1 Peter 1:6-9 "In this you greatly rejoice, thought now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Having just spent a week on an Army base, I am just full of all kinds of military metaphors. Considering that the base I was on was Fort Knox, the gold theme seems to fit as well...
As I read the scripture above, the thought came to my mind that life is like boot camp for eternity. I have never been through boot camp, but we have two boys who have been there and done that. I have heard the descriptions, seen documentaries on television, and even with my limited knowlege this I know: It's hard. I also know this: It's hard on purpose. The military wants the young men who stand on the front line for us to be prepared and strong. They want to weed out the ones who won't make it. They make it physically painful on purpose. They make it emotionally straining on purpose. They make it tiring on purpose. But those who make it through are stronger in the end.
This to me is just a metaphor for life and the refining process we must go through. No one wants to face difficult, stressful times, but it is necessary for our spiritual growth. We are in a spiritual battle here. On the front lines, so to speak. Fighting a spiritual warfare. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" Eph. 6:12. Who of us does not want to be prepared to fight our best?
Earlier in 1 Peter 1, Peter talks of our new birth and resurrection and of the inheritance we have that cannot perish. He is talking of our salvation and eternal life. The trials we experience in this life, purify and prepare us for the life to come. This is our 15 weeks - our enlistment is eternal.
So consider this - Life is hard. Life is hard on purpose. God brings us to situations that, depending on how we react to them, will make us stronger in the end. I do not believe that he causes every bad thing that happens, but he certainly uses every difficult trial in our lives to grow us up. If we accept the trial and face it, asking God to show us what we can learn from it, he will use it to burn away everything within us that it is not pure and prepare us to someday meet him. He wants to make of us a thing of beauty - after all, we are his bride...
So "...Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far [surpasses] them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-19
(For more on Paul's "light and momentary trials" read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.)