By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“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 Peter 4:12-13
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

My son will undergo serious heart surgery tomorrow. Having experienced open heart surgery myself at a similar age, I kind of know what he is going through as he prepares for this fiery trial in his life. His trial is kind of my trial, too, as I feel grave concerns as his father, with accompanying steadfast hope in his and my Great Physician.

Trials beset us all, irregardless of rank or economic prosperity. Rich and poor, famous and common alike, experience trials. Though the poor do not have the assets to recover so quickly as the rich, fiery trials are still part of human life.

My son is very active in outdoor life, and his heart is basically healthy from lots of physical exertion and living at a high altitude. But an important part of his heart was missing since birth, which wasn’t discovered until a few weeks ago, near his fiftieth birthday, requiring a surgeon going into his heart to reconstruct.

This is a trial that was going to happen regardless, which is a common truth to all your trials. Accidents are not random, nor are these and other such trials, which are sent providentially to test your faith.

Heaven having neither tears nor pain is not the conditions of this life. This life is simply not heaven, but is a time intended to make us fit for it. Our mindset as believers must not suppose the Christian life down here, which you may be wont to do, a “heaven on earth.”

This is rather a testing ground for your increasing sanctification. There is work yet to do before you cross the river. Sin still has a place in your life. It needs to be put to death, as Paul so clearly states in Romans, Chapters 7 and 8.

As the trials come, receive them with joy in your spirit, if not in the pain your body bears, knowing they come from your Father’s loving hand. His Son was not exempt from fiery trials. Jesus received them obediently with joy so He might fulfill all righteousness; a righteousness, by the way, which He won, but becomes yours by faith.

We all at the judgment seat thankfully plead His righteousness as our very own. A gift which is the greatest gift of all! He won it, we need it, we get it.

So consider those trials pure joy! They aren’t, but with the bigger perspective of faith, they quickly become so.


“Only be still and wait His leisure in cheerful hope, with heart content to take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure and all discerning love hath sent; nor doubt our inmost wants are known to Him who chose us for His own.”
(3rd verse of Georg Neumark’s hymn, “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee,” 1841)

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