“I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors. Ensure your servant’s well-being; let not the arrogant oppress me. My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. It is time for you to act, O Lord; your law is being broken. Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path” (Psalm 119:121-128).
I heard it on the radio first. Then I saw it all over Facebook: Pastor’s wife brutalized and murdered in her own home while her baby son lay in the next room. I was stunned. Shocked. I cried for hours for a woman, a family, I didn’t know. I grieved for her husband who came home to find the body. I grieved for her son who would never know his mother. I grieved the unborn baby who died with her mother.
When the tears dried, I became afraid. Afraid for my children. Afraid for my own safety. I have never known such intense fear. I locked the doors and hid inside our house, unwilling to take my children to the park to play in the sun and fearful of even going to the grocery store. “What if…” and “If it happened to her, then…” played through my mind. I struggled to sleep. Even though the events happened in a distant city, every noise, every shadow made me jump.
And then I became angry. I mean, really angry. “God how could you let this happen? She was a good person; she was your servant sharing the Gospel in an urban, inner-city area. She was doing all the right things! WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?!”
All I could think was that somehow my God, who is supposed to be good, didn’t protect one of His own. Wasn’t that part of the deal? We serve, He protects!
When the storm of my emotions began to ebb, I was exhausted. In my emotional weariness, the Holy Spirit began to minister to my broken heart. I heard my accusations, my fears replayed in my ears, followed by the soothing promises of God:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13).
The goodness of God is always present—even in difficult circumstances, even when we can’t see it. He does not give up on us when we rail against Him in fear and anger. He is I AM. Always present. Always there. And though I believe it hurts His heart to see us in pain, there is goodness even in the pain. Our growth and maturity is His purpose for us. He does not waver from that. Whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, living the easy life or scraping hard against rock bottom, God’s loving purpose for us never changes. Grow in faith. Go deep in trust. See the joy of my salvation—even at the end of the barrel of a gun. For all works together for the good—the ultimate good—of those who love Him. And the ultimate good is not the temporary extravagances of this life, but the eternal joy of life with our Creator.
That truth doesn’t make trials easy, but it does give perspective—a different scope to view our hardships through. I don’t think there is a reason for everything that happens to us. Satan rules the earth and causes all manner of horrific trials. We are tested—deeply tested—during those trials and where we place our trust becomes obvious. If my trust is in my circumstances or other people, my faith will crumble. If my faith is in God, my rock and my salvation, I will thrive—even in the hard places. There I will find that God is Always Good. Even when it doesn’t look like it or feel like it.
Read 1 Peter 1:1–9.
Who are these truths written for: believers or unbelievers?
What have we been given, according to verses 3–5?
Is our “new birth into a living hope” dependent on our feelings, our circumstances, or our performance? Is there an expiration date?
How was it given to us? (vs. 3)
Verse 6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice…” In what?
“…Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” The truth of our new birth into a living (active) hope gives us reason to rejoice EVEN THOUGH we struggle. Why? (Read verses 7–9).
What is worth more than gold?
Do you believe that is true? Gold is an earthly commodity, not a heavenly commodity. What does that tell you about God’s values and His focus for your life?
According to these verses? What increases and refines our faith?
What value, then, does suffering have for the believer?
Read 1 Peter 4:12–15. Is it unusual for believers to suffer for their faith? Is it something we should hide from in fear or shame? Why?
Jesus Himself said that we can expect trouble and hardship, but He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We don’t have to fear! While we don’t go seeking for trouble, if we are living out our faith, actively loving the broken world around us as He has asked us to do, we will face opposition from others and struggle within (it’s not easy!). But the rejoicing starts now: “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name…those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (v. 16, 19).
Lean hard against the Truth of God, dig deep into His Word. His promises are for your ultimate good—even when it doesn’t feel good or look good, trust in His faithful love.