Think it Not Strange
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13
Hard to believe it is September already, mostly because 2020 had such a long start. Time seems, for some of us, to have been suspended in much the same way as our “normal” lives have been suspended since March.
For many it has taken a toll on their mental and emotional health. Stress and uncertainty in life weighs heavily on us, particularly when we find our selves under the aegis of someone who may or may not have our best interest at heart. As citizens of a country where certain fundamental freedoms are guaranteed to everyone it is unnatural for us to suddenly be denied certain rights of movement, mobility, interaction with others and the opportunity to assemble in the most fundamental ways human beings find life sustaining companionship through human-to-human contact. For some, maybe most, it has been a trying time, indeed.
We’ve all seen or heard stories of what happens to people who are thrown into isolation or sentenced to solitary confinement. Overtime some have gone completely out of their minds. Not to mention the deleterious effect isolation has on babies who get no human physical touch from the time they are born. Most do not survive and those who do live for a short time experience stunted physical, mental and emotional development.
Lately, we are hearing more news of churches and Christians in particular being targeted and singled out for more stringent scrutiny and denial of their God given freedoms of religious expression, so much so that many are asking, what is going on? In a country where religious freedom has been one of the hallmarks of our democracy it is especially troubling to see and hear political leaders dismiss our faith as irrelevant to this present time and ridicule anyone even suggesting that a miracle is possible. And even worse to hear the calls for removing all Christian symbols, references to God or passages of scripture from all public life and discourse. Such pronouncements leave us wondering what has happened to our nation.
In times past when the nation faced a crisis, whatever the cause, we would ban together with a common sense of the value and wisdom of seeking God for answers and for provision, even for a miracle. People were encouraged by those in the highest offices of Government to pray, to assemble in house of worship to call on God’s intervention on behalf of the entire nation.
Now, any such call is subject to a lawsuit by someone claiming to be offended by such a call. Therefore all must be denied the right to publically acknowledge God as our source for life, and that becomes their aim.
As Christians we have a choice in how we will respond to this present time. The questions have been asked many times. Is this a test from God? Is this the beginning of the great tribulation? Is the Church now having to go underground, even in America? Has our faith become so abhorrent to those who hate us and the God we serve that even our very existence is a threat to their cause?
Maybe, who can truly say? That things have moved far away from the culture of respect and submission to what was universally accepted as the Judeo-Christian way of life in America is evident all around us. But there is truth to be found in this time that is both edifying, comforting and informative for every believer in Jesus Christ.
Hear these words from 1 Peter 4:12-19
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” I Peter 4:12-19 NKJV
Over hundreds, over thousands of years the Church has been warned in advance not to be shaken by times of trial or by the persecutions we may endure at the hands of the ungodly. This is such a time. In profound ways our foundation of faith has been shaken, but it has not failed. We are still here and God is still enthroned over His creation and JESUS IS STILL LORD!
Our faith is being tried and our most fundamental basis for trust in God is being challenged. Some are saying if your God is so powerful why are so many people dying from this corona virus? If your praying is so effective why are so many people sick with this disease?
The answer is the same today as it was in Jesus’ days on the earth. Even when He was going about doing good healing all who were sick and oppressed by the devil [Acts 10:38] there were those who sought to kill Him, those who denied the works He was doing before their eyes, even accusing Him of being in league with the devil. It is the same spirit prompting the same accusations and offensive rhetoric at the Church and Christians in particular today.
But hear what the Spirit of God says through the Word.
“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” 1 Peter 4:14
God is glorified in how we respond to this disease and all the machinations that have surrounded it. We do not fear because God is with us. We have faith in God so that His Spirit, working through us empowers us to move mountains. Who knows how many millions of lives have been spared, recovered and are recovering from this disease because the people of God are praying.
We are not unbelieving because we know the Word of God is true and when all else passes away it will still be true. We act wisely and within the boundaries of the law. We are not among those who commit crimes and acts of violence and destruction in the name of their so-called protests.
We are peacemakers. We are those who love our enemies and we are seeking daily to do good and pray even for those who hate, persecute and say all manner of evil against us falsely because we love Christ and serve Him alone.
Beloved, fear not for God is with us, be not dismayed for He is our God. He is strengthening us. Yes, He is helping us. He is upholding us with His righteous right hand.
“Fear not,for Iamwithyou; be not dismayed, for Iamyour God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10