Every day someone will encounter persecution. This will occur in the form of abuse, discrimination, oppression, punishment or victimization. Persecution can be subtle by someone trying to manipulate you or brash by individuals who holds a higher position or social status in life. However, what you don’t see is how current trials and tribulations prepare you for future events.
So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.
When I was in third grade, I walked to an elementary school in my neighborhood. After desegregation was passed in Delaware, I was forced to attend a school in inner city Wilmington. I went from the safety of the suburbs into a school with mainly African American and Hispanic students. At the time, I was overwhelmed, scared and questioning God about why I had to go through this. Thirty years later, when I became a high school teacher, these 3 miserable years helped me relate to a broad spectrum of students.
In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:6-7.
In the passage above, Peter writes a letter to first century Christians. While one of Jesus’ disciple doesn’t specify about which trial he is referring to, Peter warns believers that persecution is a necessary evil. Whether it was denying Jesus in public or making a fool of himself, trials serve as a refining process for faith. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of being clay shaped by God the Potter who molds and fastens us into his own image. The hard part is going through the fire, furnace. Therefore, the next time you feel overwhelmed by hardships, what you don’t see is God setting the stage for your next assignment in life.
by Jay Mankus