Day 128: May 8, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Suffering Reveals the Genuineness of our Faith
by Gayle Haywood, Senior Adult/Congregational Care Minister, Brentwood Campus

“No pain, no gain” are challenging words frequently spoken by coaches and personal trainers to encourage the athlete to push through physical discomfort and difficulties in order to become physically stronger and more agile. While none of us like to hear these words, we know it is the price we must pay to produce positive results.

In today’s passage and the two readings, which will follow, Peter, James, and Paul, essentially say this to their readers. We experience pain, for greater gain. As believers we may tend to think, because we are Christians, we should be exempt from suffering, trials, temptations and hardships. This passage warns us this is not the case. The inflicted pain is needful and necessary for spiritual formation, growth and development. This is possible because of what God has done through Jesus Christ.

Peter begins this chapter by praising God and then expounds on the benefits of redemption in Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, we have been given a new birth made possible by His death and resurrection, which also ensures for us an undefiled, incorruptible, unfading inheritance, guarded, and kept safe by God’s power.

But in the meantime, we must experience trials, afflictions born of our faith and of divine necessity. We are tested so that God may put His stamp of approval on our faith. The difficulties are brief compared to future glory. Our faith will be rewarded if we persevere and endure.

As followers of Jesus Christ, our aspiration is to become more like Him. Just as Jesus Christ endured suffering for our sake, the road we must travel as Christians is fraught with challenges.

The seaworthiness of a boat is not determined as it sits calmly in the harbor, but as it sets sail. Its ability to withstand the tumultuous open seas, pounding waves and gale-force winds, proves its strength. Similarly, our growth, development and the formation of our faith comes through hardships and testing. The strong winds of life produce strong wood, which enables us to withstand what life throws at us.

Suffering becomes the crucible of our faith and as a result of the fiery trials we face, the purity and genuineness of our faith is revealed. Trials are not to take the strength out of us but to strengthen us. They develop our capacity to bring glory to God. Consequently, we are formed, transformed and conformed into the image of Christ.

I imagine most people are like me. Who in his or her right mind would welcome pain, trials, and suffering? My human nature is to avoid discomfort at all costs. Yet, as I read Peter’s admonition and consider the cost, I discover the eternal benefits and dividends that suffering and hardship produce.

Rather than whining, “Woe is me,” I will do well to stop, look at the situation from a different perspective, and like Peter, praise God for this dilemma. If I welcome the trial as a test, I can know that it will strengthen and purify my faith. I can also be confident that Jesus will be waiting to say, “Well done,” when all is over. 

Praxis

  1. Think about a recent experience, which challenged you, perhaps bringing pain and suffering. How did you respond? Could you have responded differently? Seek to find at least one thing to praise God for in this situation. Praise God for loving you and growing you in your faith.
  2. Reflect upon your relationships. Is there a relationship you find challenging? Is there a conflict that needs to be resolved, a hurt that needs to be mended, a marriage that needs to be rebuilt, or a healthy confrontation which needs to take place? As iron sharpens iron, a conflict can be constructive. Ask God to show you what to do next. Respond in obedience. 
  3. Tell a friend or co-worker about a trying personal experience. Share how God used this difficulty to strengthen your faith.

About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.