In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 1:6-7
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with my dad’s wife Helen (it feels a bit weird to refer to her as my stepmother, though that’s technically what she is to me. I was grown when she and my dad married so she never really mothered me, as it were. But I digress…). She has had innumerable health challenges in the past couple of years—it got to the point that every time I talked with her, she was sick yet again with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or some other infection she was never able to fully shake. She has asthma and chronic migraines as well. She went from doctor to doctor, never able to find a cause for her constant illnesses. She kept her hopes up, though, and her faith was rewarded not too long ago when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease, though they don’t know which one exactly yet. But finally, a diagnosis!
This Wednesday she is going to have a treatment called subcutaneous immunoglobulin infusion, in which antibodies from human plasma are injected to a person to help bolster her resistance to infections (from what I can glean from the interwebs). She is quite excited for the possibilities and promises that this treatment might bring. What’s she’s not so excited about, though, are the potential side effects she might experience. As she heard and read about some of the side effects (some of which include headaches, migraines (and as a migraine sufferer, she is more likely to develop more of them), nausea, lower back pain, and a whole host of other more serious but less likely ones), she shared with me that her first thought was that the cure seemed worse than the illness, but that she realized that the side effects were probably necessary but temporary things she would have to experience in order to get better.
Friends, isn’t that realization and rationale applicable to those times when we have trials and tribulations in our lives? Challenging times have a divine purpose—they are intended to grow us more into the image of Christ, to produce Christ-like qualities in us such as perseverance, character, and hope. Admittedly, while we are in the middle of some of the doozies some of us have experienced, it is difficult to see how the trial can produce anything but anxiety, consternation, or hopelessness. It’s difficult to rejoice and consider it all joy, as Paul and James exhort us to do, when you can’t understand why things are happening the way they are, and feelings of despair and fear are threatening to overtake you.
It’s in these times, dear ones, that the enemy can really turn on the heat. He whispers to you that you deserve the pain that you’re going through (lie), and that God has abandoned you (more lies), that if you just had more faith, or prayed more, or were a better Christian, none of what you are going through would be happening (supermega lie!), and that He doesn’t value you or love you (unequivocally a lie!)
Beloved, that simply isn’t how God operates. He will never abandon or forsake us. Read the Isaiah passage above—you are passing through waters and rivers, but yet they will not overtake, nor will the flame scorch or burn you when you walk through fire, because He is with you. Passing through waters and walking through fire are no cakewalks—no, they are heavy duty and perplexing experiences. But you are not alone—our Abba Father is with you.
- For Helen, and those like her who face health issues and are so ready for a cure, a positive outcome, hope!
- For those who are homebound, regardless of the reason, and may feel forgotten by friends, family, or the church
- For those seeking direction for His will in their lives
- For government leaders at all levels of government, in this country and elsewhere
- For our church to be obedient as we seek His will in transforming us, individually and as a church
May we aspire to grow in spiritual maturity so that we can delight in those difficult times, knowing that that they are happening for a reason, and that the Creator of the universe walks with us, and will work all things together for good even if we can’t readily see it.
“Prayer is bringing your wishes and worries to God; faith is leaving them there.”
“The devil doesn’t care if you go to church or read the bible, as long as you don’t apply it to your life.”