1 Peter 4:12 – Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. (NLT)
Ominous clouds threatened as my wife and I eased into the parking space.
Hot, humid weather had been the pattern for the past week, so pop-up showers had been increasing. On this particular evening, I had a wedding to officiate. A few rain showers had already passed by earlier in the afternoon, and I was hoping for fair weather, since the reception was outside.
Shortly after we pulled into our parking space, large pellets of rain began to fall. As the winds increased, I anxiously watched the reception tent. Though a few odds and ends blew away, most things stayed in place. They had expected the unexpected. The tent was securely staked. Long, heavy tablecloths clung to the tables. Wrapped utensils kept the napkins from blowing away. Apart from a little trash and dirt blown in by the wind, the reception went on as usual, despite the earlier storm.
Peter speaks of another type of storm: persecution. Those early believers were facing their share of it. Though they might have been surprised, they shouldn't have been. After all, Jesus had been persecuted and had told them that they would be as well.
When I remember the impact of sin on people and the world in general, I'm no longer surprised by the trials that I face. People infected by sin will behave in harmful ways. Sinful natures are responsible for physical and verbal abuse, crimes of all sorts, divorce, financial mismanagement, and elder abuse. The list is endless. The infection of sin can also make nature behave badly: tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.
But not all trials are caused by sin or sinful people. As long as they don't violate His nature, God, too, can send trials. The Bible is decorated with stories showing how He did just that. The difference is that God's trials are beneficial. When we respond to them with a positive attitude and draw closer to Him for wisdom and guidance, we grow spiritually, and our faith is enhanced. Remaining in a close relationship with Christ helps us to survive and even to thrive when the unexpected comes along.
Let's not let the unexpected blow us away, but let us remain grounded in Christ.
Prayer: Father, when the trials of life come, may we find our anchor in You. Amen.
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