“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” - 1 Peter 4:12
Recently, Arch McGarity and I were discussing the oddity of our current state in the world. It is overwhelming, concerning and often quite frustrating, but if we are not careful, we might begin to think things are worse than they have ever been.
Arch then shared the following account of the life his Granny Lindsey:
“I think about my maternal grandmother who was born in 1903. She was 11 when the first World War started in 1914. When WW1 ended four years later, she was 15. The same year WW1 ended, the Spanish Flu hit and killed 50 million people. In 1925, she gave birth to my mother only to see a depression in 1929. She and my grandfather were poor when the Depression started. She was 36 when WW2 began (1939) and eventually got a job working where men used to work…but the men were off fighting a war. Later, her husband (and my grandfather) died in 1959, and she had to move in with her daughter and four grandchildren, ages 7 to 14. She never complained about anything but always thanked God morning, noon, and night. She ended her morning and evening prayers with these words: “In all things, Lord, Thy will be done. Amen". It is all a matter of perspective and faith.”
Talk about experiencing hardship!! Wow, what a life! I imagine some of you can share similar stories of hardship upon hardship.
In our Scripture, Peter writes the early Church of perseverance in suffering as they struggle in persecution because of their faith in Christ. He reminds them that suffering is not unique to one person but familiar to us all. In some ways, Peter says, it should be considered an honor to suffer, especially if it is on behalf of Christ, as Christ too suffered. Sharing in His suffering prepares us to also share in His glory.
And this message of finding joy in difficulty is all throughout the New Testament. Hardship is present in life. It just is. It has been, and always will be here in this world. But we also have joy here and now. In all that Arch’s Granny Lindsey experienced, she kept moving along. She kept living. She kept praying and giving thanks to God. She got married and had a family. She had money and then had none. She had jobs and then didn’t. She laughed, but she also cried. These are all part of life.
Hardship, pain, grief and suffering will always be with us… but don’t be overcome by it. Remember the joy there is in life too. Family. Work. Laughter. Weddings. Babies being born. A beautiful sunset (or sunrise if that’s your thing). There is so much to celebrate. God is with you! God is with us! Give thanks and keep it all in perspective.
O Great and Mighty God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit! We give thanks to you, for you sustain us in all things. And though we do not like it, we thank you for suffering. We thank you for how we are shaped and molded through difficulties. Help us to find you in our struggles; help us to see how you are shaping us into your likeness. Give us strength. And in all things, Thy will be done. Amen