Suffering is Hard; Judgment is Worse

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Pet. 4:17–19 ESV)

What Should We Do in the Midst of a Trial?

Entrust it to God

To entrust something is to take something valuable to us and give it to someone else. The more valuable it is, the more you carefully think about it.

I was recently encouraging the church staff about getting wills prepared for themselves. Guess what the biggest decision is? Who gets the kids? Who parents your kids if you are gone is the biggest decision of all. Why? They are so valuable to us. Their care and provision is a first priority.

That is the sense of it here. Our health is valuable to us. Our reputation is valuable to us. Our relationships are valuable to us. When a trial comes, something valuable to us is being threatened. It’s at risk. It might go away. Peter urges us to hold these things with an open hand and when they come, to entrust them to God. How do we do that? There’s a second encouragement.

Trust his faithfulness

“…entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

Peter highlights the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. The one who brings and resolves trials is the same one who made us in the first place. When life hurts and we look around for some hope, is it not the faithfulness of God we rest in? How is he faithful? He is faithful to his promises. Faithful to his love. Faithful to his people. Faithful to his Son’s work in our lives. Faithful to the end as the unchanging God. Faithful to his joy in our Christ-likeness. Faithful to his power’s ability to meet our needs. Faithful to his glory. In these and many other ways, God is faithful.

When we are in a trial and something valuable to us is at risk, we must look to God’s character and believe him to be faithful and to take that valuable thing and entrust it to him by trusting him with the outcome.

My family is in this very process. My three-month-old daughter Madeline has had some health issues. We found out this week that she has a reflux from her bladder into her kidney. This is not itself life-threatening, but it is a very serious problem. They rate them 1-5 with 5 being the most severe. She is a 5 on her left kidney and a 3 on her other kidney. She is likely facing what seems to be a pretty difficult surgery. We are meeting with a specialist this week so we will know more then. She will likely need to grow a little more, so the surgery could be some months away. In the meantime, we have to be very careful with her as any fever is a potential crisis.

So how does this apply to the DeWitt family? When you hear severity number 5, your heart sinks. What will this mean? How will we do this? Will she be okay? We don’t know the future, but the Lord does. He is faithful today and will still be the faithful God on surgery day. We lean into him by reminding ourselves that he created this little girl. She is special to him. He gave her to us to take care of her. He is a God of healing and there is hope in him. So as we wait for that surgery date on the calendar to arrive, we will be handing her over again and again and entrusting her to her Creator’s loving care.

Continue to do good

Trials are not excuses to suspend obedience, prayer, service, and loving others. We naturally become self-centered in a trial. Our focus swings to ourselves, which is some of the misery of it. But when my trust is in God and I have given the matter over to him, I am spiritually and emotionally freed from obsessive worry and can continue to love people around me. Fight bitterness by serving others in their needs. Doing that is its own form of encouragement.

I think of a woman in our church, Denise Stewart, who had a terrible bout of cancer and treatment. As she was recovering, she started a ministry to provide warm blankets for other cancer patients in her hospital. She continues to raise money to buy blankets and distribute them in the cancer wards. Trust God. Do good.

Who Does This Sound Like?

“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:44–46)

Even Jesus did 1 Peter 4:19. “Those who suffer according to God’s will.” Who has suffered more by the will of God than Jesus himself? What did he do? He called out with a loud voice, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is the same Greek word for commit as entrust in 1 Peter 4:19. He held his life loosely and when the moment came, he entrusted it to his heavenly Father.

If Jesus can trust the Father with his life and hand that over to him, can we trust him for the trials he brings to us? Imagine it in your mind. Can you take that thing or person, wrap it in a ball, and today say, Father into your hands I commit my trial. My cancer. My child. My broken relationship. My unemployment. My frozen marriage. My pain. In a prayer of faith, can you hand it to him with trust that he’s got this and that whatever comes, it comes from his faithful hand?

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2015 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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