“O beloved ones! Do not be surprised by the fiery trial taking place in your midst to test you, as if some strange thing were happening to you! On the contrary, to the degree that you are fellowshipping with the Messiah’s own sufferings, keep on rejoicing, that you might also rejoice and rejoice exuberantly at the unveiling of His glory!”
1 Peter 4:12,13
“and they (Pharisees) summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
audio of kids and I singing around 1 Peter 4:12,13
1 Peter 4 really is just an echo of 1 Peter 1. Rejoicing now in the face of trials is simply a demonstration of where your faith rests…in the “unveiling of His glory” at the Day of the Lord. Rarely, if ever, do we in America and the Western world face the level of fiery trials that the apostles and those in persecuted nations face. Nonetheless, if we are led by the same Holy Spirit that led Jesus, then the cross is before us and trials will be upon us again and again, that we might continue clinging to Him until He returns.
Whatever hope we hold to will anchor our response. For the apostles, their hope was anchored in the age to come and the hope of their Messiah returning and restoring all things. But for many modern believers, their hope becomes anchored in self-preservation.
The verses above are obviously based in the context of severe persecution. But there are trials of many kinds that we face in the dark age we live in.
One example of this could be sickness, disease and even the death of someone close to us. Which brings me to the subject of healing. For some, healing becomes their central focus based upon an illness they, or someone close to them, has. The tendency can sometimes be to feel that if they don’t make healing their central hope, then they won’t have enough belief to show God they deserve the healing. Ultimately they are desperate because many fear death and are awakened to how it could be their (or someone close to them) immediate fate. But healing has always been intended to be a peripheral but important element that points to the coming resurrection of one’s body at the end of the age when Jesus raises the dead.
Not everyone will be healed completely in this age. How do I know this? Well, no one has continued to live since the fall of man. Everyone grows old, their bodies decay and they die. There is a point where people die based on the curse of sin and thus our hope is anchored on a Day in history where sin, decay and death are no more.
I use that as an example because I have seen too many who had a concept of healing via prayer but when their loved one died and/or went through extreme physical suffering, their response was one of offense towards God. Their hope was anchored in either their own self-preservation or someone else’s preservation for their own emotional well-being. And when that didn’t work out, they were left upset, offended and unreceptive to the Lord. There was no longer anything to grip ahold of because the future certain Biblical hope had been replaced by a more immediate uncertain hope that cannot be guaranteed until death is ultimately crushed at the Day of the Lord. And usually the immediate hope was built on a shaky foundation of what WE think the situation deserves, which is obviously healing. Mix that with raw emotions, compassion and rallied petition(s) that have been offered to God with as much focused belief as one can muster and it can wound people at a deep level. Their theology can no longer reconcile why God didn’t do something in their situation but did in someone else’s. In their minds God can certainly not be trusted at that point.
So, am I saying don’t believe for healing? Nope. I pray for healing all the time and just prayed for my son this morning related to healing. My wife is partially blind and I pray for her healing often. Is my faith lacking because my wife is not yet healed? My faith definitely has lacked at times but my faith and hope are not anchored in a temporary healing. They are anchored in the cleansing blood of Jesus on the cross, the return of my Messiah and the restoration of all things, including the resurrected body of myself and others in the age to come. Patient endurance and long suffering are a key to the faith that I hold tightly to.
So when I pray for healing over those that ask or need it, I pray full of faith for God to restore what is broken as a glimpse of the inheritance we will have at the resurrection of our bodies on the Day of the Lord. Will the body of the one receiving the healing still decay and eventually die apart from Jesus’ return? Absolutely. It’s guaranteed. We cannot beat death apart from our Messiah ushering in the next age. But healing does give a platform for us to stand on and point to as a witness of what that healing is a sign unto: the resurrection of our bodies at the Day of the Lord. I personally believe that a physical healing falls dramatically short of it’s intention if it does not lead to a gospel witness that results in an anchored hope of God’s ultimate redemption.
And what if He doesn’t heal the person? I consider it a trial (of many kinds) that has the ability to mature that person and those around that person in perseverance, long-suffering, patience, etc. Will we figure out all the “why’s” in this age and make sense of what is in the heart of the Lord concerning each dynamic situation? Nope. However, God does give fairly clear direction as to what will help us face the situations this dark evil age is constantly throwing at us. Whatever you do, don’t reposition the Biblical hope from the center of your Gospel and bring it into this evil age. It will fall way short and leave you stunned and hopeless at many points along the way. On the contrary, cling tightly to the hope and salvation of the Gospel which is found in our Messiah upon His return. And as you cling to that sure hope and are stirred in faith, may it lead you to walk in a way worthy of Him in the present.
So let us place our “hope completely on the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus our Messiah is revealed (at the Day of the Lord).” 1 Peter 1:13 That way, when we face trials of all kinds, our response will be rejoicing based on the eternal hope we have, rather than fear. And our response will give witness to all who see.