The Good Side to the Down Side of Life

by Tau Alpha Kappa (i.e. anonymous)
Sentry Magazine, September 1999

I Peter 1. 6- 7 says something extraordinary in that it points out there is a good side to the downside of life.

''Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:6-7).

"Temptations," i.e., trials, refer to the various pressures and harassments that are part of the human predicament. And while he acknowledges the unpleasantness of trials ("ye are in heaviness," i.e., sorrow, distress), Peter also points out that they are not all bad.

Because of the pain they inflict, trials are commonly viewed as unwelcome intruders in our lives. But remarkably, times of trouble are a necessary factor for personal growth and maturity. Men do not grow spiritually or emotionally merely by thinking about it or wishing for it. Growth occurs in the tension of making the right choice when we are "tried with fire." Trials enable us to test ourselves against reality and to discover those areas of our character wherein we are lacking. And such exposure of our true self to ourselves is necessary before we can make the conscious decision to move on to greater perfection, firmness, strength, and stability (I Peter 5:10). It is only when our faith has stood the test of trial that it becomes proven faith (James 1:12) -- a faith that will result in praise and honor and glory when the Lord returns.

The trials of life, therefore, are "no accident" (Phillips, l Peter 1:7). Every man will face them, even when he doesn't want them, and prays to be delivered from them (Matthew 6:13). How we choose to handle them will either add to our growth or delay it. A man does not choose to grow once and for all; the choice to grow has to be made every time problems come our way. Times of suffering are never easy moments, but they ask us, in a profound way, whether or not we wish to move ahead on the road that leads to glory.

As paradoxical as it may seem, trials are always an opportunity for us to act in our eternal best interest. They hurt; but they can be redemptive moments if we remember that in God's scheme, resurrection inevitably follows suffering. And so, "let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (I Peter 4:19).


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