Rejoicing Even In Times Of Trouble

When I opened my Bible app yesterday and read my first devotion, I got rocked. Thank you, Streams in the Desert, for rocking me.

The devotion centered on 1 Peter 4:12-13, where he reminded the believers that they shouldn't be surprised or caught off guard when difficult things happened in their lives. It wasn't some strange thing that came out of nowhere, coming out of the proverbial left field. They are promised to all believers of all eras.

And not only were they trials ... they were FIREY trials. Peter wasn't talking about waking up on the wrong side of the bed and having to deal with people all day. The 1st-century Christians were dealing with persecution, torture and death for their beliefs. And Peter was telling them that this shouldn't come as a surprise because it was exactly what happened to their Lord and Savior!

Maybe it's just me, but after reading those words, my problems don't seem so terrible. I've been struggling with a few things lately, but they're NOTHING compared to what Jesus went through for me. It's so easy to look at the hills in my way and blow them up into giant mountains without even trying. But that's just the selfish side of my brain trying to justify anger and bitterness, and that never works out well because the Holy Spirit gets involved and reminds me of what's really important.

My relationship with the Lord is important.
My marriage is important.
My family is important.
My home is important.
My work is important.
My youth group is important.

When the trials come - and they will come, we're promised - there is always a reason. They're not random moments in time to hinder us or deter us from anything. Matthew Henry's commentary on these two verses spoke to my heart: The trials may be sharp and fiery, but they're not designed to ruin us. They're put in our lives to grow our sincerity, strength, patience and trust in God.

Well, when you put it THAT way.

Peter says, when you're going through these fiery trials, rejoice.

Yeah, right, Peter. I'll rejoice. Uh huh.

No, really. He reminds the early believers, and now us, that there is nothing we're going through that Christ didn't go through before us. We're merely following in His footsteps and learning from His example. And when He returns to take His bride to heaven, we'll rejoice that we've already begun to experience Him in these intimate ways. Each trial that we face, rely on Him to get through and see victory on the other side will draw us that much closer to Him.

And closer to Jesus is something to really rejoice about! With exceeding joy, right?

My day started with worrys and fear mixed with a little bitterness and anger, but God's Word came through like always. It's not strange to go through trials because we're just walking in the footsteps of our Savior. And keeping Him in perspective before us is what changes worry, fear, bitterness and anger into exceeding joy. Not just a drop here and there, but so much joy that it overflows.

And that joy can come even in times of trouble and trial. God told Peter so, and He's telling us the same thing today. Are we listening?

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