Transforming Our View of Trying Times

Since the garden, the aim of Satan has been to convince humanity that God is not worthy of the faith that some have placed in Him and further that what they can have without Him is superior to what they enjoy with Him. As is evidenced by the book of Job, one of Satan’s chief tools of persuasion in this effort are the tests and challenges of life.

God is not unaware of Satan's aims and even invites Satan to consider the faithfulness of certain individuals, like Job (Job 1:8; 2:3). When Satan beholds such individuals, he is convinced that they will give up on God if subjected to certain trials. God however is convinced not only that the faithful will endure trials but also that these trials will both strengthen them and their faith. Even at the dawn of God's revelation of Himself to man, Job proved God right by catching glimmers of God's ultimate purpose in Jesus (19:25) and even the value of trials (23:10) without giving up on God.

Peter continues Scripture's discussion of the subject of trials throughout his epistle and notably in 1 Peter 1:6-12. Judged using one metric, the "various trials" Peter's audience presently faced (1 Peter 1:6) and perhaps even the "fiery trial" to come (4:12) could be seen as lesser experiences than what Job endured. There was one key difference though that Satan no doubt hoped to use to his advantage to win these Christians over: whereas Job did not know why He was suffering (e.g. Job 10:2), Peter’s audience knew they were suffering because of the name they wore (1 Peter 4:16).

Prophecy has long been a means of God revealing Himself to man, by which God combines His “spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13 NASB). These inspired utterances create faith in God by revealing God’s glorious actions toward and purposes for mankind. Peter’s audience had accepted a “prophetic word confirmed” (2 Peter 1:19) through faith. This meant they were chosen by God and were being sanctified by His Spirit (1 Peter 1:2).

Peter knows his audience is going through a trial that is exceptional not only because of its cause – their faith – but because of the response God expected from them: for them to “take it patiently” (1 Peter 2:20), not even reviling or threatening in return (v. 23). However, Peter provides three powerful reasons why they should not only endure these trials and embrace God’s expectations but also rejoice (1:6):
  • the salvation they knew they would enjoy at the end of these trials (vv. 7–9)
  • the oversight of the Lord whom they loved throughout these trials (v. 8)
  • the fact that the prophetic word they had believed to embrace both God’s salvation and 

Jesus was the glorious pinnacle of all of God’s prophetic work (vv. 10-12). Whereas Job had to grope forward in faith, seeing the end and the purpose of his trials only by reasoning from the known to the unknown, Peter knew that the message his audience had received had the potential to allow them, as Paul put it, “to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ” (Colossians 2:2 ESV). Through Christ, they knew what ancient audiences, even angels, had only dreamed of knowing.

So, before Peter said, “gird up the loins of your mind” to encourage them to prepare for what they were facing and would face (1 Peter 1:13), he convinced them that prophecy had not only given them food for thought but a feast for thought. If Job could see even briefly the glory God could work in his future with as little as he knew and still remain faithful, certainly Christians, basking in the full light of revelation, can do the same.

So, do you see trials like God does or as Satan’s wants you to see them? Let what you know change what you see.
-Patrick Swayne  
patrick@tftw.org

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