Getting the Most out of Hardship – 4

A fourth benefit of hardship, suffering and trials is that they expose and help us root sin out of our lives. In Isaiah 48:10 God says, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” In refining a precious metal like gold or silver, the metal is heated to a liquid state and then the dross or imperfections are skimmed from the surface to make it more pure.

In the same way, God uses “heat” and “pressure” in our lives to bring sinful patterns to the surface. For instance, it’s easy to love others when they too are loving and caring toward us. But when the heat is cranked up and someone treats us with anger and malice we are tempted to throw back at them what they threw at us. Christ wants to change that in us, but without the heat and pressure of the moment, our sin won’t be revealed.

I mentioned earlier that hardship and suffering also help root sin out of our lives. We find a remarkable principle in the Scriptures that speaks to this issue. In 1 Peter 4:1-2, Peter urges us, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

How did Christ respond to suffering? Peter describes this earlier in his letter, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to God.” (1 Peter 2:23) Jesus humbly and patiently submitted to suffering while trusting that God is faithful and loving and knows exactly what He’s doing. Jesus’ focus was to please God and do His will even if it meant suffering for it.

Likewise, when we suffer and we focus on pleasing God and doing His will, there’s no place for sin (rebellion against God, or going our own way). This is what Peter means when he tells us to “arm ourselves with Christ’s attitude toward suffering,” and that by so doing “we’ll be done with sin.” Suffering reminds us and drives us to trust in God and focus on what He desires.

In the ‘90s Linda and I spent nearly six years in Texas. This began as a very dry time for us spiritually. We didn’t seem to fit into the culture of the Dallas—Ft. Worth, we had difficulty finding a good church and consequently had few friends. The first two years, it seems, we spent grumbling and complaining!

But in the hardships we experienced there God exposed our sin of grumbling, complaining and living a defeated life. We confessed our sin and began looking for ways to enjoy Texas and its people and we did. Getting the most out of hardship is a choice we must make!

©2011 Rob Fischer