1 Peter 4:12
Are we then, before we really suffer, to suffer in imagination, tormenting ourselves with gloomy fears, and imbittering present comfort by future apprehension? No.
But neither are we to indulge presumption. We are to consider difficulties as well as advantages, and though light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun, yet we are to remember also the days of darkness, for they shall be many. If we do not admit the possibility of disappointment and distress, we shall, when they occur, be dismayed and confounded, and say "If I am His, why am I thus?" What is unexpected is overpowering; it does not leave us, for the time, the use either of reason or religion, and we resemble a soldier who, while seeking his weapons, gives the enemy an advantage against him. But to be forewarned, is to be forearmed; and what we reckon upon in the course of an enterprise, confirms, by the event, the reasonableness of our scheme. The apostle would not have us to be surprised, or deem it a strange thing, even if our trial should be fiery. A strange thing is a thing unlooked for, and which we had no reason to expect. But is this the case with our afflictions?
Think of the ordinary state of humanity. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, and is it strange that he should inherit? How numerous and how delicate are the organs of the body; yet they are constantly in use and in danger. To how many accidents are we exposed! How many seeds of disorder are lodged within us! Every possession makes us capable of loss; every connection, of bereavement; every enjoyment, of grief; every hope, of fear. The wonder is we are ever free from trouble.
Hear the declarations of Scripture: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." "In the world ye shall have tribulation." "Through much tribulation you must enter the kingdom." Are these true sayings of God?
Trace the history of His people. However dear to God, or eminent in grace, which of them escaped?
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown:
No traveller e'er reached that blessed abode,
Who found not thorns and briars on the road."
Is this only the language of poetry? "What son is he," asked the apostle, "whom the father chasteneth not?" "As many as I love," says God, "I rebuke and chasten."
Consider the disposition of the world: "Marvel not if the world hate you." If they hate the light they are not likely to love those who diffuse it. The principles and walk of the Christian reproach and condemn not only the profane, but many who would pass for religious, but who dent the power of godliness, while they have form. The mere moral and pharisaical are often the bitterest enemies of evangelical piety. The rule was once deemed without exception: "Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The absence of it now is owing not to the want of disposition, but power. Many things restrain it, yet it is restrained only in the degree. The hand is tied, but the tongue is free; and how does it deal with the decided followers of the Lamb? And what is the carnal mind, but enmity against God?
Survey the Christian's spiritual imperfections and necessities. Without suffering, how can they resemble the Savior; and be weaned from the world; and be witnesses for God; and be prepared for usefulness? Can the welfare of the year dispense with winter? Is it a strange thing for the husbandman to plough up the fallow ground, to receive the seed; or for the vinedresser to prune the vine; or for the refiner to put his gold in the furnace? Such a needs-be is there for all our afflictions, and he only who is ignorant of it can wonder at the event.
But, Christian, while you look for the fiery trial, so as not to be astonished at the expirience, remember you have enough to encourage you. He who died for you, and rose again, and rules over all, has amde provision for every condition in which you shall be found. As thy sufferings abound, thy consolation shall abound also. If the way be rough, thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy day, so shallthy strength be, till the last tear is wiped away, and all shall be peace and quietness and assurance forever. Rev. William Jay
"Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you"1 Peter 4:12