Trials Educate, Purify, and Strengthen
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.... But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12, 13.
Looking forward with prophetic vision to the perilous times into which the church of Christ was to enter, the apostle [Peter] exhorted the believers to steadfastness in the face of trial and suffering. “Beloved,” he wrote, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”
Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of success.
He who reads the hearts of men knows their weaknesses better than they themselves can know them. He sees that some have qualifications which, if rightly directed, could be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these souls into different positions and varied circumstances, that they may discover the defects that are concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to overcome these defects and to fit themselves for service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to burn, that they may be purified.
God’s care for His heritage is unceasing. He suffers not affliction to come upon His children but such as is essential for their present and eternal good. He will purify His church, even as Christ purified the temple during His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon His people in test and trial comes that they may gain deeper piety and greater strength to carry forward the triumphs of the cross.
There had been a time in Peter’s experience when he was unwilling to see the cross in the work of Christ. When the Saviour made known to the disciples His impending sufferings and death, Peter exclaimed, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Self-pity, which shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering prompted Peter’s remonstrance. It was to the disciple a bitter lesson, and one which he learned but slowly, that the path of Christ on earth lay through agony and humiliation. But in the heat of the furnace fire he was to learn its lesson. Now, when his once-active form was bowed with the burden of years and labors, he could write, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.... But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”—The Acts of the Apostles, 524, 525.
From Reflecting Christ - Page 363