A scripture passage was brought to my attention this morning as I was praying and laying before the Lord some things that were in my heart. I have been asking a lot of “Why” questions and not a whole lot of “What” lately. What I mean by this is that I have found myself in the midst of a trial, and I was taken aback by the trial. It was unexpected, and I was not prepared for it. I was walking along in my own little world, following the Lord God and loving the path He had me on. But then, out of nowhere, BAM! A trial hit and I was flat on my face in the bottom of a pothole asking “What the heck just happened?!”
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
As I read these scriptures a few things stick out at me. First is the fact that I should not think it strange. When Peter used these words, he was saying to us that we should not be surprised or shocked, or astonished at what has just happened to us. Not many of us can say that we have not been surprised or shocked at a trial that comes upon us. I for one was thrown out of my comfort zone and into the fire in a matter of minutes. I had no idea that the path that I was on had a huge pothole that I was going to fall into. But God knew, in fact, God put that pothole there for a purpose and a reason. Why? Why would God prepare these potholes for us on our walks with Him?
To try us, of course. Peter tells us that we should not be astonished when we find ourselves in a fiery trial, because God has put it there for a reason. God could just as easily have filled that pothole in with some fresh asphalt, but He has chosen not to, He has chosen to keep that pothole there for a purpose and a reason. Most of us who fall down into these potholes prepared by God begin to fret and worry, wonder and ask the questions “Why” a lot. But God has a purpose and God has a reason.
Peter tells us that these potholes are “fiery trials which is to try” us. The words fiery trial is used metaphorically to give us a picture of the burning and roasting that is used to purge out any impurities in metals. When we find ourselves in these unexpected potholes, instead of asking “Why” we need to look up to the Lord God who is roasting us and allow Him to purge out the impurities in our flesh. This trial that you find yourself in means that God loves you too much to leave you where you are. He wants to try you, to roast and to burn out of you all that is not of Him. He wants to purge out the impurities of pride, lust, unforgiveness, and bring out into you the qualities of fidelity, integrity, virtue and constancy. He wants your heart to be pure before Him.
Instead of looking at these potholes as fiery trials, Peter is telling us that we should look upon them as ways to partake of the sufferings of Christ. And if we partake of His sufferings, we will also partake of His glory and joy. These potholes are not put before us to trip us up, to make us doubt and think we have done something wrong. God has put these potholes there to try us, to refine us, to purify our hearts as He makes us and molds us to be more like His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Look at the joy of what Christ suffered for you. Hebrews 12:12 tells us that Jesus saw the joy of being a part of your life before Him as He went to the cross and suffered so painfully for us. He saw the joy of having you for an eternity and the suffering, the fiery trial He had to go through to get to you was nothing compared to the glory and the joy that His death would bring. He wanted to go through the trial, the suffering and the pain just so that He could be a part of your everyday life, for all eternity to come.
So why then do we get so shocked and surprised when a trial comes upon us? Why then do we question God’s reasoning for putting that pothole in our path? Do you desire to live for Christ; do you desire to be His in every aspect of your life? Then expect and do not be surprised when the fiery trial comes upon you. God puts potholes in our paths long before we are even able to walk. He desires to purge out of us any and all impurities that hold us back from reaching the fullness of His love for us.
Suffering and trials are the “means through which the genuineness of faith is proved and Christian character is developed.” (Dictionary of Bible Themes) John Piper stated that “a refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up and leaves the silver or gold intact.” You are silver, you are gold, and you are precious in the eyes of God. He has prepared this pothole with a fire ready to burn away any impurities that ruin your value. He values you above all else, and it is His desire to make you holy, complete, and full of His riches and glory. To do this, He has prepared potholes for you along your path.
When we find ourselves walking along, minding our own business, enjoying the grace and peace of God, thinking that all is well, be ready, there is a pothole waiting just ahead. Let us not look at these potholes and ask “Why” but let us look at them and say, “What do you want to do with me, Lord?” Let us allow His work and His refiner’s fire to roast the impurities out of our hearts so that we might become partakers of the glory and the joy of Jesus Christ, now and forever. God loves you too much to leave you in the state you are currently in. Keep walking, and when you fall into a pothole, rejoice! For the pothole is