What makes a trial? I was reading this passage in I Peter 4:12
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
It’s interesting to me that there are no parameters given here as to what should or should not be considered a test. It’s simply defined as a fiery ordeal and ‘something strange.’ The Greek word translated as ‘something strange’ can mean ‘foreign’ or ‘novel.’ Now if you are like most folks, what is difficult for you may not be difficult for someone else. In the past few years I have begun to walk through a few physical issues, mostly related to being in my forties. They have been a bit scary sometimes, and more than a little painful a couple of times, but survivable. Furthermore those things drove me to prayer and perspective. I have had a few years of financial difficulty, some of which stemmed from my own stupidity, some of which stemmed from our circumstances and choices (even good ones) in life. Occasionally, they have caused some hardship and been a pain, making me sweat bullets for a bit, but in the end those things don’t trip me up. This verse, however, makes me realize where my weaknesses are.
The fiery ordeal mentioned here is something that we don’t understand; it’s strange, foreign. I hate that. I am an emotional guy. I admit it freely. Years of theatrical training followed by years of ministry have either made me that way or brought that part of my personality to the front. (It’s also possible I did those things because I was an emotional guy; chicken, egg, chicken…) What tries me the most is when my emotional state is in an absolute uproar and I don’t understand why. If I get ill, I get it, stuff happens. If we suffer financial loss, I get it. If I lose someone close to me, God forbid, I may not like it but I get it. Death is an unfortunate part of the human condition. If someone hurts my heart, I get it. Heck, sometimes I even deserve it. But then the littlest thing occurs and raises up a fiery cyclone in my heart and I don’t understand what is happening. I hate that. I hate it especially when I know the right way to deal with the problem and that’s not what I want to do. I want to fix it. I want to pursue and control. I want to rage and storm like Lear against the thunder. But I know I need to just let go. Wait. Be patient. Love. Bless. Do all the things that should mark me as a disciple of Christ. I hate it, but I tell my self that its unimportant and I’m a whiny child. Get over yourself, I say, there are people suffering with a billion different kinds of cancer.
Sometimes I belittle my own feelings. Sometimes I think that they shouldn’t matter. Sometimes I treat myself like we treat other people, really. “I understand your problem but it’s really not a big deal compared to what I’m going through.” You know what? You are the only one who knows what hurts your heart. You are the only one who can recognize the truth of what you are facing. And guess what? God cares. He cares about broken hearts, whether they occur intentionally or accidentally; whether they come from best friends or worst enemies; whether they are self-inflicted or not. God cares. He cares whether you trials come from kings or kittens; cash or curmudgeons. He cares because He loves us. Recognize your trials my friends, call them what they are, even if they logically seem small or irrelevant. Every one grows us stronger. Every one proves the love of our Father.