1 Peter 4:12 (ESV)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
As I read this passage, I am honestly surprised. I am surprised at how easily I forget this passage. When things go well, I get so excited and feel so close to God. But, when things do not go well, I somehow forget what God has written in his word. I ought not be surprised when, though I try to follow his word, life is still hard, sometimes very hard.
Christians will face trials. If you don’t believe that, you need to reread the New Testament. God never promised us lives of ease. God never even promised us success. Sometimes men and women of God gave their all and never saw the kind of fruit they wanted to see. Sometimes men and women of God have been faithful to the Lord and his word, and all they received for that faithfulness in this life was persecution and death.
Oh, I’m not trying to be so gloomy as to ruin anyone’s day here. However, we need to be realistic. Christians will suffer. The world does not like the cross of Christ. The world does not recognize God as their Creator and Ruler. The world wants to be freed from God’s reign, and that desire will lead them to oppose Christians. So we ought not be surprised when our lives are marked by hardships. In fact, Gods’ word, above, tells us not to be surprised if we face fiery trials. Hard times will come if we try to take the gospel to the nations. If we try to please God, the world around us will not like it.
We must not be surprised when hardships come, but neither should we give up. Hardships are sometimes signs that we are going in the right direction, swimming against the current if you will. If the world around us thinks we are just wonderful and that we are no different than them, we are missing something. Let us remember also that God promises great rewards to Christians who suffer as they strive to faithfully serve their Lord.