1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – ESV
Suffering in our Christian walk is a vast subject we can never quite seem to wrap our heads around. Or rather that we can’t wrap our hearts around. I think we understand it intellectually, but when the time comes to go through the fire, our hearts shrink. Especially those of us who live in first world countries in the 21stcentury. Our flesh has been conditioned to seek and find comfort and ease.
Establish The Spirit—The Flesh Suffers
Comfort and ease are fine as long as our spirits are in good shape. But as long as we are on this earth, our spirits will need further strengthening, and the flesh will always need to be crucified to access and strengthen our spirits. During those seasons, when God seeks to strengthen our spirits, He allows us to be confronted with tests and suffering. He tests our spirits—and our flesh suffers as a result, because it is at war with all things holy. This is also known as refining fire.
We may find ourselves tempted dodge this fire when we see it coming. As I mentioned, we have a lot of comfort and ease surrounding us. With this being the case, if our flesh remains alive, we search for avenues of comfort other than the Comforter and sometimes we effectively bypass the fire for a season.
We Can Run, But We Can’t Hide
The problem is, if we continue walking the narrow road, that fire will find us again at another season, to complete the work it was sent to do—and in the mean time, we have not matured. Also we fail to understand that if we simply submit and endure, God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. He does not promise to do that if we resist the fire.
Rather than establish us in the promised land, many times God will allow us to make another circle in the wilderness if we escape the fire by our own will. But when we endure, and strengthen ourselves in the joy of the Lord until the season ends, He will establish us in the land of promise He was trying to lead us to all along.
The difference is, whether we will heed our longing for alternative sources of comfort, or if we will live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. If we live by the words or promises God gives us, we can’t lose. The road might get rough, but in the end He will establish us. We will be stronger and leaner. There will be less chaff in the way of God’s Spirit, which allows Him to move more freely within us—and through us to others.
Our authority becomes greater and our hedge stronger. Our confidence increases and our boldness multiplies. These rewards more than compensate for the times of testing we endure. God is in the business of establishing us, but He tests us before doing so.