“Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12
“Confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we may through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22
One of the best things about being an avid reader is the happy ending that appears at the end of almost every book I read. When you first dive into a new book you begin to get familiar with the characters and their life. Each turn of the page takes us along on their journey, revealing to us their joys and sadness, hardships and pain. By the time we reach those last few pages, everything has worked itself out. There’s almost always a reason for celebration and the typical “aww” moment, especially if you’re into romance novels.
That’s the great thing about books. They allow your imagination to soar, taking you into worlds you may not otherwise get a chance to explore. Your mind’s eye gets hooked up with the writer’s vision for the book and soon a vivid story begins to unfold before you. Though there are no pictures, illustrations begin to form revealing all that is written therein. Television has its place – oh, but to read a book!
Whether it be a movie, television program or a book the stories we hear and see transport us, giving us a reprieve from reality. But, when the last page is read or the screen goes blank, it’s back to reality. And, reality isn’t always as picturesque as the stories we left behind. Sometimes love does not find its way. Sometimes the bad guy does get away. Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it home. Sometimes the disease doesn’t get healed. Sometimes the child does not find their way home. Sometimes the friend does not stick closer than a brother, and so on.
Sometimes life is just plain ole not fun! I think more so than ever that we have not heard enough about the reality of life. Instead, we are raising up a generation of rose-colored glasses wearers. Even from the pulpit of most American churches, the messages of peace, prosperity and wealth has taken over the reality of life. Jesus Christ, Himself clearly stated that in the world you will have tribulation, John 16:33. Peace and blessings will come. Promises will be fulfilled. But our physical being is planted in the world right now, and while we are here we have to face the reality that everything, every day is not going to be easy.
This philosophy breeds a culture of disillusionment. Romanticizing life leaves one totally off guard and taken aback when troubling times occur. A hard life is a hard life no matter which way you look at it and when one is not ready in the least for it, the residual effects can be devastating. “We may through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.” It is going to be hard sometimes.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12. In other words, the test is going to be hard sometimes. Tests are not passed with a fly by the night attitude. Tests are passed when people are prepared for them. But, the wearer of the rose-colored glasses will have a harder time because the tests seem like a “strange thing” that has happened unto them.
Listen, prepared or not, some things in life will just come out of the blue and whip your world around causing you to say, “What the what?” It’s inevitable. The idea behind not romanticizing life is to expect the unexpected. We don’t want to lose out on those promises God has for us because we have the false illusion that nothing will ever happen to us.
The promises are coming, that’s a given. In John 16:33, after Jesus warned, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” He also gave us cause to celebrate. He said, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And, after Peter wrote of the “strange thing,” he exhorted his readers with verses 13-14a. He said, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you . . .”
Oh yes, thank God for the promises. Every word that speaks of them is true. But, don’t be surprised when we have to go through some stuff today before we reach those promises.
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