Our first child was a girl, so my husband and I were ecstatic to find out our second child would be a boy. After a long labor, but a fairly smooth delivery, we believed our newborn son to be perfect in every way. But only two weeks later he became a newborn who aspirated, was labeled failure to thrive, and had to have a feeding tube placed at a month old. No one knew what was wrong with him. As the doctors speculated about his rare condition over and over again, my heart sunk deeper and deeper into despair and fear. I was so overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, many days I could only pray, “God help me. Help us. Please save my son.”
Nearer to Christ
No one wants to face their greatest fear. Deep down we wonder how we would survive if indeed our greatest fear becomes reality. As Christians, we even wonder how we will endure, even though we know God is with us. Fear paralyzes us and often makes us forget God’s promise to be with us. Our faith can also be shaken by the raw emotion that comes with trials and when our hope is misplaced.
Two years later, my son is doing much better and continuing to conquer many developmental hurdles. We still don’t have an official diagnosis, and we may never have one. I live in a continual cycle of fear and trust, fear and trust. Through this journey of appointments, tests, scans, therapy, and blood work, I see Jesus and the gospel with greater clarity. The Bible stories I heard and read many times growing up in my childhood church are no longer just good stories from a distant God. They draw me nearer to my LIVING HOPE, Jesus Christ, and my future with him.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7)
In 1 Peter, the apostle Peter is addressing Christians who were suffering as exiles because they believed differently from much of the world. They suffered various trials because of their faith, but Peter encouraged them that these trials would refine their faith and point them back to Jesus. Peter urged them to continue to hope in the living Christ, our Savior. If they could find their identity as ambassadors for heaven rather than as cultural exiles, Peter knew they could suffer well and God would be glorified.
Suffering Points us to Christ
I often thought being “refined by fire” meant that I would become a better Christian or better person once the trial was over. But I can attest that it is so much more than that. The trials I go through in this life are refining me to look to Jesus. God wants me to trust in his strength alone. Being refined is a process of stripping away all the false idols, false security, and the anxiety of not being in control. It’s not only about me becoming more sanctified and growing fruits of the Spirit, but it is also about testing what or who I put my faith in. It’s about exposing my tendency to trust in things of the world and to instead see the beauty and sufficiency of Christ and his atoning work on the cross for me.
If we allow God to work in us, we can learn much from our earthly sufferings and glorify him. We can learn how to trust in the only hope, the best hope, the LIVING HOPE: Jesus Christ. He gives us hope now and in eternal life to come. This hope is not dependent upon our circumstances. Even if my son was not doing well, I would still have this hope. And that’s why the Christians Peter wrote to had hope in the midst of their trials. Because of Christ we can look forward to one day no longer being exiles and belonging with God forever.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
All of us have suffered in one way or another, and all of us need the LIVING HOPE, Jesus Christ. We all need to be reminded of our inheritance, our identity, and our place in God’s story of redemption. When you suffer, where does your hope lie? Do you let your trials lead you back to the cross? Does your suffering remind you of your eternal identity?
Our suffering is temporary, but our inheritance with Christ is forever.
About the Author:
Sierra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, Josh, and their two children, Corra and Henry. They are members of Forestgate PCA, where Sierra currently sings in the worship ensemble and co-leads the women’s Bible study. She works part-time as a music director for Starz Children’s Theatre in Colorado Springs. Her favorite things are hand embroidery, hiking with her family, and Friday night movies with her hubby.