Devotion for July 21
By Bryan Chapell

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet. 4:12-13)

If every day of the Christian life were just a walk on easy street, we would have scant cause to lean on him. That’s why, odd as it may seem, God uses our suffering and trials to draw us closer to his heart.

The Apostle Peter says not to be surprised when we face a “fiery trial.” Such a trial does not mean that we have done something wrong or that God is somewhere else. We should expect spiritual opposition in a fallen world, but that push back should push us into our Savior’s arms.

After a couple of mistakes playing infield, my little league baseball coach banished me to the right field desert. Then, the next batter got a hit that I misjudged and the ball sailed over my head. As I ran to retrieve the ball, I cried out to heaven in my 10-year-old angst, “Oh God, what did I do wrong.”

I presumed that I was being punished for some unknown sin, not that I needed as-yet-unprescribed glasses. My trial ultimately resulted in a trip to the optometrist, then better ballgames, then better grades, then an improved confidence that God would use for greater purposes than I could imagine.

Peter encourages such mature understanding, telling us not to think it’s strange that the world opposes Christians, but also not to waste our trials.

When you learn that God’s presence is strength for trial, his promises are comfort in trouble, and assurance of his sovereign care provides peace that passes understanding, then cry out to him. He will give you sight of his heart – and nearness to it.

Heavenly Father, let me not be surprised by trials, but learn of you and lean on you through them. Help me trust that the heart that sent Jesus for me, cares for me.

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