“Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal.” 1 Peter 4:12 NAS
“Life isn’t always fair, but God is.”
Everybody loves a surprise when it is a pleasant one, like a birthday party or unexpected gift or good news. But for many of us, most of the things that surprise us are not all that pleasant, and those surprises are unwelcome – certainly unappreciated. Across the years of pastoring, more than one person, in the midst of a challenging difficulty, has said to me, “Life’s not fair!” Of course it’s not; that’s no surprise. Why would you assume life would be fair?
Life isn’t always fair, but God is. Sometimes the good people that should get a break, don’t. And the people who go carelessly along without regard for God or man seem to get by with it. That’s certainly not fair in anyone’s opinion. David felt that way when he wrote, “Surely God is good to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps had almost slipped . . when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Psalm 73:2-3. That seems incongruous, doesn’t it?
Why should the wicked prosper? Why do the righteous suffer? Those are age-old questions, still being asked. But you won’t find the answers by trying to explain a present experience, yours or others’. The present facts will confuse you unless you know the Truth, and you will only find the real and enduring Truth in God and His Word.
Peter was writing to people – good, Godly people – being persecuted, mistreated. And they were surprised, as you would be. His wise and practical counsel was, “Don’t be surprised . . as though some strange thing were happening to you. To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory. You may rejoice with exultation.” 1 Peter 4:12-13. Now that is quite a surprise, isn’t it? And not the answer that you want to hear.
“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind” – now here’s what should be no surprise – our hearts ache but we always have joy . . we own nothing, and yet we have everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:4,10 NLT.
David said, “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I understood . . ” Psalm 73:16-17. There is a place to go when the moment and circumstances do not make sense – into God’s presence. “Therefore, we do not lose heart . . for momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4: 15-17. See the contrast: momentary – eternal, light – weight, affliction – glory, “far beyond all comparison.”
This should come as no surprise. In God’s hands, your trouble does not come to hurt you, but to help you. Not take from you, but give to you. Not rudely shock you, but pleasantly surprise you. God will appear in your most difficult moments, and shout, “Surprise!” And you will be so glad to see Him, and that will be no surprise!
My prayer for you today is to see God in every situation.