November 27, 2021

Facing the Fiery Trials of Faith - Finding Hope in our Hurts

My morning reading from the Bible was First Peter. From the start the Lord begin to stir in my soul and to be honest I felt compelled to write down some thoughts just like I would when God gives me a message to preach.

It was the subject that Peter deals within this letter that grabbed me, the subject of trials. What is a trial? In the context Peter is writing in; it speaks of testing of one’s faith to see if it genuine and strong or simply empty words spoken or expressed. It speaks of someone who is a being examined as a candidate for a Doctor of Medicine. They have the knowledge, but can they put it into practice.

It also carries with it the picture of metal being tested to see if is pure and strong. It is a blacksmith placing metal into a fiery furnace to shape it, mold it and remove the impurities. Which can only happen if the metal is placed in the fire.

The people that would eventually read Peter’s letter fully understood the illustration both as an example but greater in experience. They were facing the testing of their faith. Those that Peter was reaching out to were in the middle of severe persecution for being a Christian.

In AD 64 Rome was set on fire, believed by its own deranged Emperor Nero. But Nero placed the blame on Christians. It stuck and what would come would be severe persecution of loss of property, families and for their very life.

When Peter wrote this, the believers were going through the “fiery trial” (4:12), for of them it was literal what they possessed were set on fire. But to go with it, the fire of sorry, pain, heartache, loss, fear and uncertain times, this group were right in the thick of the trial by fire.

As I read this precious letter again this morning, I thought of others that would read it even today. Now over 2,000 years later, there are Christians right in the middle of their own fiery trial.

I begin to think of people that I deeply love in my family, in our church family and those in our community that find themselves in the heat of the furnace right now. Right now, the faith they have in Jesus Christ is being tested in the fire of affiliation.

Fires like:

 Physical sickness such as Covid and cancer or any sickness to the body.

 Caregiver to a family member is sick

 Mental health.

 The loss of a loved one.

 Financial issues

 Family drama or disunity

 Persecuted for their faith

I am sure you could add so many more to the list. The bottom line, we all face trials. Job tells us “Man is born of women of a few days and full of trouble.” Jesus tells us, “In this world, you will face tribulations.”

But, in Christ and through the power of His word and the Holy Spirit, Peter does not leave us with the reality of trials, we all got that one fairly good. Praise God, Peter reveals to us there is hope in our hurt. Peter shows us there is grace and strength amid what you are walking through.

I jotted down thoughts as I walked though this great letter this morning and I would like to share them with you, praying God the Holy Spirit would not only help you be renewed but be able to rejoice in the hope that is found in Jesus Christ even as your faith in Him is being evaluated.

The Trial is for a season     “though now for a season” (1:6)

The word season simply means a measure of time, great and small. Peter says the trial is for a measure of time. None of us know the exact measure of time for each trial, but it is not to stay for the duration. It may feel like it when you are in it, but just like a frigid winter night will eventually give way to a warm spring afternoon, your trial did not come to stay, it came to pass!

Stay encouraged dear friend, God knows what season you are in, and He placed you there to begin with. He is has not left you or forsaken you and you will come to the other side.

Peter also reminds us that even if we face a trial for our entire time here, we are only passing through this world. We are pilgrims and this world is not our home. Peter is constantly reminding us that we must keep an eternal perspective. Not only will the season pass, one day, we will pass from this old sin sick world and be with Jesus for all eternity.

There is hope in this truth. Hang on child of God, it is only a season.

Your hurt and sorrow you feel is real and part of the human experience in a trial, even as a Christian. “ye are in heaviness” (1:6)

Just because we are Christians, we are not immune to the pain, sorrow, sadness, and distress that comes with a trial. Yes, we are called to rejoice and find joy. But that joy does not come because of the trial but because of Jesus and His grace. But it does not dismiss that what you are feeling right now in this fiery trial is real. Jesus knows we are hurting, and He cares I promise. But do not let your flesh, the devil or anyone else tell you that you are weak in your faith because of how you are feeling, yes, you are saved but you are still human and fire hurts.

Each Trial is Unique “manifold temptations” (1:7)

The word manifold is a word that means multi-colored. Peter is telling us that each trial is like a spectrum of colors. Each one is unique to what you are facing. God places us each one in different trials. You could say each one has a color. Red for pain, Black for death, Green for sickness, Blue for depression, you get the idea. This will make sense soon, please keep reading!

The Trial that God has placed us in is for His Glory and for our Good.

This point is the hardest to take in. I get it, how in heavens name can the trial that you are facing right now, the very one that has rocked your faith to the core, the very one that has caused sleepless nights and painful days have any good about it.
Peter shows us how.

In the trial, God is doing a work in us so that we can come out of the trial with a great faith and one that honors God in a wonderful way.

Remember, faith cannot and was never meant to be just a confession on paper or words coming out of our lips of what we believe. It must be more. Faith is us living out what we say we believe. And for that to happen our faith must be strong and withstand the onslaught of the devil and the world. Guess an instrument that God uses to cause our faith to grow and get stronger, you guessed right – trials.

As I said earlier, just like metal going into the heated furnace, the blacksmith is not out to destroy what he is creating or making. No, on the contrary, He knows that only by placing it in the fire can he get the impurities out so that he can make it strong and solid.

Just like God uses trials by fire to evaluate our faith to see what is there, not to destroy our faith or destroy us, but to make us stronger and able to stand even greater with each new step of faith.

Adrian Rogers said it best, “a faith that is not tested, cannot be trusted” Another writer I read this morning said it this way, “trials have a way of clarifying what’s essential and clearing away the superficial.”

Jesus is the master blacksmith, he knows how to shape us, how hot to make the fire and knows when to pull us out and place us in the water to cool us off. He is making a mighty work in us all. And just like the blacksmith, it is not to show off on a shelf or a wall, but what He shapes, molds, and creates is meant to be used.

The same for us. He wants to not just put our faith on display but one to be lived out that will bring Glory to Him and Him alone. But we must place our lives in His hands and give Him full control, knowing He is the master, and He is working for our good and His glory.

Ok, that last one went a little long, but I felt like it is the one that gets us all, but keep reading, I want to end on the hope we have in Jesus, please keep reading!!

There is hope and help because of His Glory and Grace for every trial!

Peter tells his readers, no matter what they were facing, there is hope in Jesus because of the Glory of His Resurrection. In other words, Jesus, who faced every trial like we did, overcame them by the power of His Resurrection. He rose from the grave and in Him we have hope. Jesus gained victory over everything we face, and we can know that same victory.

All through this letter Peter reminds us that Jesus suffered as we did. Please remember that. He faced it all and we are not alone in our trial. That is why His resurrection brings hope. He faced it all and overcome by the power of God and we can too. He gives us hope by His glorious resurrection from the dead.

Then, there is grace for every trial. Remember when I mentioned that each trial was unique and “multi-colored” Peter in chapter four gives us a tremendous truth.
He tells us of “the manifold grace of God.” Same word, the multi-colored grace of God.

In other words, dear child of God, with each color of trial that you are facing, there is a corresponding grace to match the very trial you are facing.

Please do not bypass this truth.

Yes, we have a home in heaven, yes, we will be going to a place where there is no pain or trials and sorrows. Praise the Lord we are just passing through. Praise the Lord He is at work in my life and allowing this trial for His Glory and my good.

But, right now, in the pain, in the sorrow, in the sadness, in the distress, when the days get long, and the nights get even longer, how do I make it. HIS GRACE!!!

He matches us with His grace for every trial. His grace speaks of His strength, His power, His mercy. It is God doing for us that we cannot do for ourselves.
“Through many dangers, toils, and trials I have already come, tis grace that brought me safe this far and grace will lead me home!”

How do we attain this grace? We do not attain it all it, it is ours for the asking. Just bring your trial to the feet of Jesus and find the grace you need. Peter reminds that God is the God of all Grace and listen to what our God is doing and will do for us

Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. •Amen.
Then he closes out to tell us to stand in that grace!!
12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

Well, I guess I have once again gone exceptionally long, longer than I meant to.

But it is because I have a burden for those, I know are facing trials of fire right now. If I could sit down with a cup of coffee and just share these truths it would be my prayer that God would press them into their hearts to be a help in the hurt.

I pray the same for you.

I pray, like Peter, as you face your trial of faith and fire right now, God’s grace is for you and with you and stand in His grace. Knowing you may be in the fire, but He has His eye on the temperature and His hand on the thermostat but more in importantly His heart right on you.

God bless you all.

Pastor Michael