Friday, November 11, 2016

Surprise!

When I first moved to my area, I was driving up the freeway toward my final destination and noticed a sign. It said "Surprise" with an arrow pointing to the left. And I thought, "Well, sure, but not anymore, since you pointed it out." Of course, it was pointing to the city of Surprise, but who doesn't love a good surprise?

The Bible tells us that we shouldn't be surprised at something good God has planned for us. Do you know what it is?
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Oh, wait. "Fiery ordeal"? No, that isn't a good surprise ... is it?

Peter says it is. Peter says it isn't strange, that it is for a good purpose -- your testing -- and that we should "keep on rejoicing". No, not just rejoicing. "Rejoice with exultation." Hang on, Lord. Is this a good thing?

Apparently it is. "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (1 Peter 4:14) Notice that included in the concept of "fiery ordeal" is "reviled for the name of Christ". I know, I know, we don't think of being insulted for Christ as "fiery ordeal". Apparently it is. Perhaps the lightest version, but persecution nonetheless. Not at the level of execution for your faith, but it is still an ordeal. And it is a blessing.

Peter isn't done. "If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name." (1 Peter 4:16) Not bear up under ... glorify God in this name. More, "Those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." (1 Peter 4:19) Did you catch that? This is not random suffering. This is not "Oops!" It doesn't come upon us just because. It comes "according to the will of God". It is God's will.

Surprised? Don't be.

Will you do this? I have no doubt that our current level of insult for faith is only the beginning. Will you be surprised, or will you rejoice with exultation? Peter says, "It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God." (1 Peter 4:17) Are you ready? Are you ready to experience the "fiery ordeal", rejoice, and give glory to God? You have been informed. Don't be surprised. Trust me; it's a good thing.

2 comments:

David said...

This is one of those things is hard to do because unpleasant things are so unpleasant. Unless it's something I'm anticipating, it's hard to initially react with joy to trouble.

Stan said...

"it's hard to initially react with joy to trouble"

Yes, it is. I think this is conditioning, a process of training yourself so that sooner and sooner you can turn from the natural reaction to the godly one. Unfortunately, I think that is learned through a lot of unpleasant things. On the other hand, we know the outcome. Completion.