Plea for Grace October 13, 2022

1Pe 4:12-13 ESV – 12 Beloved, do not be surprised [xenizo to think strange, be shocked] at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange [xenos new, unheard of] were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

When I read this chapter, this psalm portion came to mind . . .

Psa 42:5-6, 11 ESV – 5 Why are you cast down, [sahah despairing, a complete loss of hope] O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. … 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Trials may be unexpected on our part, but they are certainly no surprise to a Sovereign God. Trials have affected humans since the Fall. We will not encounter a trial that is beyond God’s wisdom or His sovereign rule over the earth. As the preacher in Ecclesiastes declared, there is nothing new under the sun (1:9). This knowledge is not meant to trivialize trials or to shame and demean thoughts of confusion and sorrow. Honestly, it gives me hope.

1Co 10:12-13 ESV – 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The psalmist is not exercising “negative self-talk” when he asks himself why he is despairing; he is counseling his own soul and reminding himself that his hope must rest in God, for there is no hope in our circumstances or our family line. Trials may continue much longer than we would imagine or desire; some days are just hard. But God is unchanging. He does not need to learn, for He already knows everything. He will fulfill His purpose for me (psalm 57).

Here’s a thought . . . reading the entire Bible (yes, over and over) and praying through the Psalms and Proverbs (yes, over and over) fills my brain with examples of different kinds of trials experienced throughout human history. This discipline also fills my brain with who this God is who calls me to hope in Him. I am reminded of His character. I am instructed in how to respond (as well as how not to respond) to the different circumstances of life. The more familiar I am with who my God is, the less ‘surprised’ and ‘despairing’ I am. God calls me to rejoice, even when life is confusing and hard; and I can read of reasons to rejoice every day, every time I open His Word . . .

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