Suffering is to be Expected;

Don’t be surprised by it! Peter wrote “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you…as though some strange thing were happening to you.” -{1 Peter 4:12}.  The word “surprised,” {xenizo} means to be startled, bewildered… “to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder, surprise or astonishment as the result of the strangeness and novelty of something. To be shocked.”-{preceptaustin}. The story of the man who was paralyzed who was healed and the peoples response give us a picture of being astonished, shocked, surprised, “and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”-{Acts 3:10}.

” …Testing (3986) (peirasmos from peirazo [word study] = to make trial of, try, tempt, prove in either a good or bad sense) describes first the idea of putting to the test and then refers to the tests or pressures that come in order to discover a person’s nature or the quality of some thing.” {preceptaustin}. The word is also translated, “adversity.”

As regards It is a command, present imperative to “stop thinking it is a thing alien,” they were continually astonished, surprised that they were experiencing fiery trials! They were not the only ones surprised, we often are too, shocked when they happen to us! I remember been oversees and standing on the balcony of a building on a summers day overlooking the surroundings with an older man who had left his job and along with his family had traveled half way across that country to enroll to study the Bible. On the way he had car trouble, and he was so upset, fuming why and how this could happen, he had just left his job and moved his family, he was upset. Why would this happen to him in light of the sacrifice he was making. It was the first time I had met him and he was fuming, upset, not happy… with God ultimately, as he believed he deserved to be treated better!

We are surprised when “fiery” trials come into our life. And we are surprised by the PURPOSE of them which Peter says is for our “Testing!”

We tend at times to think of “God must be trying to get someone’s attention” if that person they are viewing  are suffering as there must be something wrong with them, that they are going through such a difficulty, falsely believing you won’t suffer or go through hard times unless you are doing something wrong! This was true in Jesus day, “As He {The LORD Jesus} passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”-{John 9:1-3}. They had a false concept that if he hadn’t sinned himself then they falsely believed and accused it’s the parents sin! I remember being overseas, doing some speaking nd soccer clinic when in a distance across a couple of fields two women walked towards me. And one woman a pastor’s wife wanted to know what I thought regarding her friend who had a young boy who had  severe handicap. She had been told it was a result of her sin or that of the father… and she had lived with this condemnation for years…I shared with her  Exodus 4:11 “The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? ” and also this passage in John 9. where Jesus said it was not a sin issue but for the Glory of God. She was relieved, it was not her sin, she had lived under the guilt and burdened for years as she had to carry her child whom she loved, who could not communicate verbally.   How damaging an opinion can be! 

We also tend to think of trials, suffering as abnormal, and are shocked, surprised when suffering, “fiery trials,” come our way, as if something is unusual is happening! We can read these words, agree with them “amen” them  but when “fiery trials” come our way we are caught off guard, horrified, surprised, shocked, we even may protest to the LORD, that it is “not fair,” and go into our reasons why this should not be happening to us and list our “good deeds” to show why it shouldn’t! We have had our “quiet time,” have “given financially,” have tried to help others and we at that moment have exposed our own false belief system, a system of “works righteousness!” And this can be one good thing that comes out of “fiery trials” as it has exposed our own heart and the false belief system we cling to, appeal to when hard and difficult times come our way!

Somehow we feel we are “special,” immune, from hard times for Jesus sake, immune from “fiery trials,” that we are “doing good,” and don’t need them, our character is pretty good so we should be OK and not needing any difficulties to refine us. Even that thought should embarrass and humble us, the fact we do not recognize evil and sin and the potential to act on it in our own heart’s! Remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:9 when speaking of “afflictions,” he wrote, “indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;”

Paul saw that one reason for their trials was to wean them off self-reliance  and instead to God dependency! We are so prone to rely on ourselves, fall back to doing so when difficulties come, just like speaking to God about our “good deeds,” as reason why we should be excluded from any suffering, hardships! Emm, I think that might fall under “self righteousness!” And we have to understand that though our standing is perfect with God we are not and  God is still shaping us, conforming us to the image of the LORD Jesus in thought, motivation and deed! And we have need- progressively so, to be weaned from self reliance to God dependency and God at times uses suffering, trials, hardships, to do so! 

But where is it we find out these things about ourselves? When our faith is being tested as Peter writes of and Paul testifies to! Trials reveal to me what is true of and in me!

We are told in 1 Peter 1:6-7 that one reason for suffering is to reveal to us- that our faith is genuine, the real deal. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof {Genuineness } of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” The word “distressed” means “mental anguish, tearfully sorrowful,” they are not for the faint of heart who depend on themselves but look at the reason he gives for them , in this case, that the “proof” “genuineness” of your faith be revealed to… YOU! And as wonderful as that is grammatically that is a means to the end which is  that at the revelation of the LORD Jesus you will be praised and honored for your faith!!  So there is reason to presently rejoice because it reveals a genuine faith and there is reason to rejoice because of future reward, God is going to praise and honor your faith! So THINK about that!

So the call in 1 Peter 4:12 is be prepared mentally. Don’t be surprised, shocked, bewildered as if something unexpected, strange was happening. God has said it would and it will! Peter throughout the book calls the believers to be alert, be sober minded, be ready mentally –

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”-{1 Peter 1:13}. “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”-{1 Peter 3:15}. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”-{1 Peter 5:8-9}.

 Don’t be caught off guard as if something strange is happening when suffering, fiery trials come your way as if something strange was happening- because it’s not! It’s normal, it’s to be expected, so align your thinking that way. 

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”-{John 15:18}. 

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,“-{Philippians 1:29}; 

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. -{2 Timothy 3:12}.

 “Fiery trials,” suffering for Christ is to be…Expected!