Fiery trials are overwhelming and arrive without warning. We should not be surprised when fiery trials come to test us, 1 Peter 4:12,13, for they only come with God’s permission.
To live in this world is to undergo many fiery trials. To the natural mind they are unnecessary and the cause of extreme disruption. Our faith may be more precious than gold, 1 Peter 1:7, but why does it have to be tested so fiercely? Yet, trials have a special purpose in God’s economy. He uses evil to being about good, as was seen at Calvary.
God Permits Fiery Trials
We often interrupt God’s plan for our lives and God needs to interrupt our way of thinking. Our constant prayer should be, ‘If God wills’. Sometimes our world has to collapse to get us to turn to God. Jacob’s stubbornness caused him to limp for the remainder of his life, after arguing with God. Satan is the great tempter, but God permits the fiery trials for His purposes.
Our archenemy, Satan, rejoices in his attempts `to destroy our faith in a loving Heavenly Father. However, God has a higher goal, in permitting us to be tested. Testing that results in an eternal weight of glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17. The comfort is that God knows how we will react before we even enter the trial, Isaiah 46:10.
Life and Tragedy
To live is to know tragedy and heartache, pressures and illness, and irritations, big and small. Yet, there are times of peace and joy, but it always seems the tough times overshadow the good. So why do we have to go through fiery trials?
If we were never tested, we would never learn to trust in God’s abounding mercies. We would not learn to endure and have faith in Him, for He alone has the answers. Fiery trials also reveal our impurities so we can face and deal with them. Those who come through, are strengthened just as steel is strengthened in the fires of the furnace. God is a consuming fire and His name is Jealous, Deuteronomy 4:24, Exodus 34:14.
The test is not how to survive good news, but how to survive tragedy. We should not shrink back from the uncertainties of life, for we are promised beauty for ashes. Don’t let uncertainties define who you are.
Types of Trials
This world is satanically energized, while the entire universe is a place of absolute chaos. Every man does what is right in his own eyes, but God looks on the heart, Proverbs 21:2, and trials come in many forms.
Some trials are the result of our own sins, mistakes, and wrong decisions. A second type of trial happens because we live in a world full of men and women who have an inherent sin nature since the disobedience of Adam.
Another type of trial has different characteristics. These are like birth pains. All major changes in society have been wrought through fiery trials, from women gaining the vote, to Israel being reborn as a nation. How many million Jews lost their lives, in horrific circumstances, for this to happen?
There are also trials where God wants us to grow and mature into the fulness of the stature of Jesus Christ, Ephesians 4:13. Comfort and tranquillity lull us into a false sense of safety, with no need to reach out to someone stronger than us.
No one says the trials are pleasant, but we can come out the other side stronger and better for having gone through the trial. For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, Romans 8:25,26.
Satan must have God’s permission before he can inflict trials on us, Job 1:12. There was a plan and a purpose to Job’s nine months of fiery trials. When we yield to God’s will we flout Satan’s purposes.
Job lost everything. All his wealth disappeared, the terrible death of his ten children and a painful sickness. Even his wife told him to curse God and die, Job 2:9. How do you recover from such a loss? Why wouldn’t you blame God for all your ills, after all Job was a righteous man? God could have stopped them from happening.
As you look at the behind the scenes you see that Satan mocked God, saying Job only had prosperity because God had placed a hedge around him, Job 1:10. As always, Satan was out to destroy Job’s faith in God.
Satan was permitted to test Job, for God knew Job would discover things he wouldn’t find any other way. In the end Job found a relationship with God, he didn’t have at the start.
Does Satan Win?
Satan couldn’t put Christ on the cross without God’s permission. Whenever it seems Satan is winning, look again. Satan and all his cohorts rejoiced to see God’s Messiah punished at the hands of mere mortals. Yet, the very thing Satan designed for evil, became his own undoing. Just as Haman hung on the gallows he had prepared for his enemy Mordecai, Esther 7:10.
Satan’s power over death was broken at Calvary, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. If the rulers of this age had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8. Satan set out to kill the Messiah, but the Messiah crushed Satan’s head, Genesis 3:15.
Cup of Agony
God has an eternal plan. Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8. In doing the will of the Father, Jesus drank a cup of agony in our place, Matthew 26:29. A cup so bitter that we cannot begin to comprehend the depths of it.
The wages of sin are death, 1 Peter 1:18. Jesus paid the price so the sins of whoever will believe are wiped out, and they receive the free gift of God, eternal life. 1 Peter 1:19. Animal sacrifices could not achieve this. The Son of God’s death and resurrection opened the way for sinful man to enter into a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father, John 14:6. There is no greater fiery trial than Calvary.
Reaction to Fiery Trials
The Christian walk is a process, where we grow precept upon precept, line upon line, Isaiah 28:13. Just as in the natural, we take baby steps long before we learn to run.
In all trials we have two choices. Job, in his agony of spirit, could have chosen to blame God. We can yell, “Why? Why me?” All of us can adopt an attitude of rebellion and anger against God, who allowed the trials to happen. We can look with envy at others, who don’t seem to go through the same fiery trials as us and have a pity-party anytime we want to.
Or we can adopt an attitude of faith and lean into God, believing He has our best interest at heart. He alone can strengthen, sustain, comfort and heal us, as our faith grows from strength to strength, if we submit our hearts and lives to God, trusting only in Him, James 4:7.
Purpose of Fiery Trials
If we submit to the hand of God, trials will stimulate spiritual growth, just as regular exercise stimulates the body. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. A messenger from Satan to keep him from exalting himself, 2 Corinthians 12:8. He knew God’s grace was sufficient to get him through, for God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Diamonds are only produced under extreme pressure in the dark, depths of the earth.
We are distressed with trials, but God will not despise a broken reed, Psalm 51:17. It is fiery trials that cleanses our heart of wrong attitudes. Often it is God’s way of getting our full attention, like a teacher calling at a truculent student’s name.
If we allow it, trials will refine us. That which Satan designs for our destruction, God will use for our growth. Job said, When He has tested me I will come forth as gold, Job 23:10.
No matter the nature of the trial, it is temporary. If a trial ends in the death of a believer, they go instantly into the presence of God. Many Christians are persecuted for their faith and lose their life. Yet, the mercies of God are new every morning, for great is His faithfulness, Lamentations 3:23.
Untested faith has little value. It is the reason Satan will be released for a little while, following a thousand years having been bound, Revelation 20:1. Natural people born during the millennial reign of Christ will be tested. Unbelievably, some will turn against the government of peace, just as a third of the angels fell and Adam disobeyed God.
God believes in us, just as He believed in Job. Fiery trials and suffering prove the genuineness of our faith, as well as the faithfulness of God. It is through fiery trials we do our greatest growing. Lush growth is always in the valleys, though the mountain tops are majestic.
Job eventually saw his fiery trials as a gift, for through it all he learnt a priceless lesson about his relationship with God. That is not easy when you are going through them, but if we look at our trials from the realm of eternity, they are but a whisper in the night. They result in eternal glory far beyond our comprehension, 2 Corinthians 4:17.