No Trial Strange
James Smith, 1842
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you." 1 Peter 4:12
The trials of God's people are often fiery — they penetrate to the very soul. They are exceedingly severe, and appear enough to overwhelm them. But they are still Beloved. God loves them — and therefore he tries them. Ministers love them — and endeavor to comfort them. All saints love them — and therefore pray for them. To be thus beloved by God — is enough to make one sing, even in the furnace.
We often think that none are tried exactly as we — or so severely as we are; but this is a mistake. We have but little idea of the numbers which are suffering, or the extent of their sufferings. The same afflictions are fulfilled in our brethren who are in the world. Beloved sufferer, your God forbids you from thinking that your sufferings are unusual. They all flow from your divine Father's love and tender mercy. They are to try you — but not to destroy you. They are to make you better — to fit you for your glorious inheritance.
Only be concerned to suffer as befits a Christian
— and you will lose nothing worth keeping, but only your dross. God
continues to try you, because . . .
a degree of self-righteousness, pride, and vanity may be left behind,
your graces may be brightened,
and your Christianity deepened —
but nothing worse can happen.
The fire may refine you — but it shall not consume you. It may put you to pain — but you shall not be put to shame. You may pass through fire and through water — but you will land in a wealthy place. Eternal happiness is your portion — though not at present in your possession. You are safe in the arms of Christ — though not pressed to the bosom of His love. Affliction is the family lot of all the Lord's children. Your fears are unnecessary, your doubts are groundless. God wills your trials with a view to your sanctification, and He says, "Let those who suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator."
Your trials have come to you — just as God has purposed, and must produce the effect which God intends. If you rebel, repine, and murmur — God will increase the trial, and add to the fire. If you submit, pray, and are patient — deliverance will soon be granted.
"It is the Lord — let him do what seems good to Him!" If this sentiment proceeds from your heart — deliverance always follows it. When you are quite willing to bear troubles, if it be God's will — then you are very near the door through which you will escape. But if imitating Ephraim, and acting as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke — then expect your troubles to increase, until you rise, look up to God, and heartily say, "Father, may Your will be done!" To this end, the Lord designs to bring us — and to this end, we must be brought.
Believer, let nothing persuade you that your trouble is singular or unusual. "Cast your burden on the Lord — and He will sustain you." Look unto Him and be saved. All the love in God's heart is set upon you! Everything is at work for you! "All things are for your sake, that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgivings of many, redound to the glory of God." "Fear not; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!" "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness — and all other things shall be added unto you."
The Lord is kind in all His ways,
When most He seems severe;
He frowns, and scourges, and rebukes,
That we may learn His fear!
With thorns He fences up the path,
And builds a wall around;
To guard us from the death that lurks
In sin's forbidden ground!
Return, O wandering souls, return;
The Lord your misery knows;
His mercy ever is the same —
A balm for all your woes!