Beloved, Do Not Be Surprised

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

     'If the righteous are scarcely saved,
          what will become of the ungodly and the

Therefore, let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."
~1 Peter 4:12-19, ESV

Beloved, do not be surprised when fiery trials...burn.

They are meant to burn; in order to refine.

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned?

"My glory I will not give to another."
~Isaiah 48:10–11, ESV

Fiery trials wrought upon the children of the Most High God, neither consume nor destroy the child—they sanctify the child. Therefore, our souls can find rest in every awesome act of righteousness that our God and Father ordains for our lives (Ps 65:4-8, Rom 8:28-30). As the Scriptures testify, children of God ought to seek to bring Him glory in and through the pains of our sufferings, rather than use trials to bring attention to ourselves (as the world does).

Fiery trials only burn off the unnecessary chaff that weigh us down from running our race strong, long, and hard. Fiery trials wrought by our loving Father, tests our faith, tests our endurance, and tests our hearts. Are we abandoned to Christ? Or do we still have affections in this world that deem us faithless to our Lord who purchased us with His precious blood: to redeem and purify a people for Himself—a people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14)? The only way any of us can answer this rightly, is to test our words and our actions, with the trustworthy Word of God, rather than with the untrustworthy words and judgment of men.

Jesus Christ, the perfect and majestic Lord and Savior, learned obedience by what He suffered (Heb 5:8-9). How much more ought we to expect to learn obedience through what we suffer? We are not greater than our Master. And He suffered unjustly, because He is without sin. We, on the other hand, suffer both justly and unjustly, because we suffer for our sins and the sins of others.  But regardless of whether we suffer because we sinned or because someone has sinned against us, God allows us to suffer every fiery trial , only for our eternal glory.

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
~2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 16–18, ESV

This is why God the Father commands us to walk this life, just as Jesus walked His life on earth. In Christ, God gave us the freedom to become slaves of righteousness. And unlike those who do not believe and obey the Gospel, we do nothing in this life without hope. We suffer with hope and we die with hope. The unbelieving world suffers and dies without hope. And thus, accumulate for themselves, anxiety upon anxiety. For they have no one and no place where they may go to obtain the peace of God that comes only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Having this eternal assurance and hope in all things, ought not the children of the Most High God be the most grateful and compassionate of all people? For even the unbelieving world is moved with compassion to help those who are less fortunate. Are there any less fortunate, than those who live and leave this life without Christ?

Knowing this truth and abiding firmly in the Gospel of God's grace granted to our wretched souls, let us strive to be consumed with God's love and mercy lavished on us, so that we may not be consumed with our own temporal sufferings. Let our gratitude to God for our eternal salvation we get to live here and now and there and then, press us toward compassion for others, rather than seek it for ourselves (Php 2:3-4).

To truly know Christ, is to know His sufferings. To truly understand Christ, is to thank God for how every suffering teaches us to know and love God more, and how to comfort, exhort, and love others better.

Beloved, do not be surprised when the fiery trials burn. But be surprised if they cause you to burn others.