Summary: Trials are designed to teach us so that our conduct and character change.
Hard Lessons About Hard Times
Rev. Brian Bill
March 7-8, 2015
Several years ago I took one of our daughters to a Demolition Derby. I loved watching the drivers demolish and destroy one another. We saw some great smash-ups and did a lot of laughing. I didn’t know much about the rules but I did know that the last car still moving would be declared the winner. The announcer pointed out that each driver had a long wooden stick duct-taped to the side of his car and if for some reason he wasn’t able to go on, either because he was woozy from getting clobbered, or his car had gone caput, he simply had to reach up and break the stick which would signal to the other drivers that he had surrendered. No one was supposed to smash into a car with a broken stick.
During one of the heats a car stalled and I saw the driver reach up and break his surrender stick. Apparently the other cars didn’t see it, or didn’t care, and so they revved up their engines and came at him full-speed and clobbered the stalled car, sandwiching it between a couple others. The driver was not a happy camper. I couldn’t hear what he said but I could tell it was not a word of blessing. He held his hands up in exasperation and starting waving the stick at the other drivers as if to say, “What’s up with that? Can’t you see that I’m out of commission here? Stop hitting me.”
I suspect that some of you feel like you’re in a Demolition Derby. You’ve waved the surrender stick but the hits just keep coming and you don’t know how much more you can take. As we continue in our series from 1 Peter, we’re going to learn that trials are designed to teach us so that our conduct and our character change.
The word “trial” means to be “under the thumb” of pressure. Many of you know from experience what that feels like. Some of you are going through some unrelenting pressure right now that keeps you awake at night and makes you feel wiped out during the day. In the New Testament the word trial means to prove by testing. In other words, a trial demonstrates the genuineness of your faith in Christ and refines the quality of your spiritual life.
Trials allow God to adjust my conduct, which is what I do. At a deeper level, God is committed to reshaping my character, which is who I am. And it’s all about His glory, which is why I exist.
The hits of life can come fast and furious or they can stretch over months, years, or even decades. Trials can be tiny and irritating or they can be titanic and impossible to endure. They can involve the physical, the relational, financial, emotional, circumstantial or spiritual. Several biblical terms are used almost interchangeably: suffering, hardship, tribulation, chastising and discipline.
In our passage for today we come to the core of the book. Here we’ll find four truths that will help us process our pain so that we can stay holy when everything is hostile around us. Please turn to 1 Peter 4:12-19 where we will see that the word “suffer” or “suffering” is used four times.