Our days are marked by trouble. Illness in the family, perhaps dire, a child struggling with unbelief, a bad job situation, turmoil in a close relationship — the list is as long and varied as you want to make it. We’re all facing something, a unique trial, a particular pain. And it’s not surprising.
“Beloved,” says Peter in his first letter, “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you….”
Our troubles may be painful, but they are also predictable, at least in some sense. Trials are normal. “The labours of the farm do not seem strange to the farmer,” penned Basil the Great to comfort friends during such a period, adding, “the storm at sea is not unexpected by the sailor; sweat causes no wonder to the hired labourer; and so to those who have chosen to live the life of piety the afflictions of this world are not unforseen.”If we’ve chosen to live as Christ in the world, we will face troubles in the world. The trials are sent in part to try us as Peter says. They are part of our training, our conditioning, our sanctification. In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul says,
[W]e … glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Basil said such hope “hold[s] and weld[s] together man’s entire life” and “give[s] consolation for the hardships which fall to each….”
Our trials increase and strengthen our hope in God’s deliverance. Such hope does not dissolve troubles or make them go away. As Basil suggested, it fixes the broken places in our hearts and lives. We will not avoid difficulties in this world, but our hope is that God will redeem all of our troubles in Christ.
Question: How are you thinking about the trials you’re going through right now?