Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:3-24; 1 Peter 4:12-19
Memory Verse: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7
Spiritual growth is often accompanied by growing pains. The Christian life is made up of building blocks tightly fit together. Some of these blocks consist of neat experiences and good times, while some of these blocks consist of trials, pain, and suffering. All of these blocks are necessary in the making of a successful Christian.
These growing pains are experienced in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are small trials, nuisances really, but at other times they are large and overwhelming trials. Looking around, you may notice those who live orderly lives, seemingly they have a perfect marriage, perfect children, continuous financial blessings, and they are not afraid to remind others of this perfection. While here you are, trying just as hard or in some cases harder, and what do you get? Family problems, financial problems, depression, sickness, and so forth; and too often, including those who are perfectly willing to tell you where you failed. Quite frankly, I do not understand why this is. However, in spite of your circumstances, there is something you must remember, the most critical element is how you respond to these trials and what your attitude is like. This is not easy, but with God’s help, it is possible.
George Muller’s faith when facing trials is vividly shown in his response to a problem-filled situation in 1843.
“I had a secret satisfaction in the greatness of the difficulties which were in the way. So far from being cast down on account of them, they delighted my soul; for I only desired to do the will of the Lord in this matter . . . the greater the obstacles, the more abundantly plain the proof that I had come to a right judgment if they were removed by prayer…I did nothing but pray. Prayer and faith, the universal remedies against every want and every difficulty, and the nourishment of prayer and faith, God’s holy Word, helped me over all the difficulties.” (1:p. 37)
For Christians, the purpose of suffering is to prove their true character, to clear away the dross of sin and allow the pure nature of Christ to show itself. Christians should expect and prepare for this suffering. They are to entrust their very lives to God, recognizing He is in control. And while we may be disciplined by some as they see fit, God disciplines us with our good in mind. With every trial, God fashions us to be His people—set apart for His good purposes.
- Define the meaning and nature of a trial. 1 Peter 4:12-14; Hebrews 11:32-38.
- Define the meaning and nature of suffering. Acts 9:13-16; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.
- Why does God allow us to be tested? Hebrews 12:3-11.
- What might be the result of a life filled with nothing but blessings? Hosea 13:6; Deuteronomy 8:11-14.
- What is our normal response to a growing pain? Hebrews 12:11.
- What was Christ’s attitude and His example during His greatest trials? Matthew 4:1, 4, 7, 10;
Matthew 26:37-39, 42, 44.
- What fruit of the Spirit can we draw on as a response? James 1:2-4.
Note: The aim of testing is not to destroy, but to refine.
- What promise can we respond with? 1 Corinthians 10:13; Romans 8:28.
- Is there another avenue we can take? Ephesians 5:15-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22.
Note: Do we take full advantage of opportunities for Christ’s purposes?
- How can things turn out if we respond with a proper attitude? Romans 5:1-5; 1 Peter 1:7; Colossians 1:9-12.