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Rejoicing in Pain PDF Print E-mail
Although no one enjoys painful trials, they are a necessity for the Christian life.

This article was originally published in the February, 2006 Exodus Impact

Do you ever wonder why God brings times of crisis into your life? Do you feel like setbacks and suffering are “Plan B” — that something is wrong because you’ve missed out on the “Plan A” of victory and happiness?

The apostle Peter teaches us that times of crisis are part of God’s “Plan A” for the Christian life; they are a necessity (I Peter 1:6). “Dear friends,” he writes, “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (I Peter 4:12-13). Peter says that our trials are a sign that the goal of our faith is being accomplished. Through them, God is working to purify us and teach us to depend on the Father, all the while making us more like Christ. Just as fire tests and purifies gold, so God is testing and purifying our faith—“and [our] faith is far more precious to God than mere gold” (I Peter 1:7).

So God allows us to go through trials because of how precious we are to Him. It hurts—it’s painful—and God knows that and feels compassion toward us. But he doesn’t always take away the pain because of what the pain produces in our lives. 

We would prefer that God use easier methods to make us grow—something safe, comfortable and pleasant. But, as difficult as it is to see His children in pain, God has a purpose in our lives that will not be accomplished without suffering. Suffering exposes the games we play in an attempt to run our own lives and trust ourselves rather than God. Our loving Father knows that this is far more dangerous to our souls than the suffering that comes our way. Only when we learn to walk in dependence on Him can we experience the intimacy that our souls are thirsty for. Idolatry, in whatever form we choose, will always leave us lacking.

Peter concludes that we have exceedingly great reason to rejoice, even in the midst of our trials, because our trials are accomplishing for us a blessedness that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:4). In the midst of crisis, that is our hope.

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Greg Van Nada is the Director of US Churches for Great Commission Ministries, based in Orlando, Florida.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Fall 2005 issue of Great Commission Ministries’ Connect Newsletter. For information on obtaining reprints of this article, please contact content@gcmweb.org.

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