|The power to rejoice, even in the stickiest situations.|
How many batteries does it take to power the average American post-Christmas playtime? If I were to make a joke out of that question, it would probably include a clever play on words—maybe something about lithium ion versus lead oxide. No doubt we’d all get a big charge out of it. (A “charge”? Really? That’s all I could come up with there?)
At my house we start buying batteries by the boatload, gearing up for Christmastime—even now that my kids are grown. Most of the batteries are for my husband. He still gets toys for Christmas. I would tease him about that except that I buy him most of the toys. And also I like toys.
I’m not sure I can even count the number of batteries we drained the year Richie got the remote-controlled helicopter. One of my favorite incidents that year was when he was still trying to learn how to fly it. Where’s an anti-torque pedal when you need one? He accidentally landed it right smack-dab in a big bowl of strawberry preserves. Unexpected. And so funny! Also, new invention: jelly-copter.
A friend pointed out that all he needs to do now is learn how to land in the peanut butter. Then he’ll be able to make a sandwich without ever getting out of his chair.
On the other hand, it’s not nearly so funny when life is feeling out of control and we find ourselves landing in something sticky. But we’re told in 1 Peter 4:12 that it shouldn’t be so unexpected. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you,” (HCSB).
Wouldn’t it be nice if we never experienced those out-of-control-feeling moments—if we didn’t have to struggle through the sticky? Our “someday” will be without difficult surprises. But in our here and now, living in a sin-cursed world makes a fiery ordeal a very common part of the journey.
|We have a tendency to think our suffering is unique.|
We have a tendency to think our suffering is unique. But for the most part, it’s not. Peter’s “don’t be surprised” is in the present imperative form—a command. The command is to stop it. Stop thinking this is unusual. Sometimes when we’ve been closely following Christ, our inclination is to be offended by a trial—to wonder “what did I do to deserve this?”
One paraphrase puts it this way: “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job,” (MSG).
In those moments when life is the stickiest, we can look at the difficulty as some kind of punishment or crushing defeat—even the absence of God working (which many people do), or we can see it for what it really is. It’s the result of living in a fallen world—and sometimes it’s also a part of a refining process the Lord wants to use to conform us to the image of Christ.
We have instructions in just how we should respond in the very next verse. “Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory,” (1 Peter 4:13, HCSB).
As the Holy Spirit works in us, we truly can find ourselves rejoicing, all by His limitless power—even in the stickiest trials.
And that’s our glorious charge. Batteries not included. Or needed.
We can #rejoice when the Holy Spirit works in us - even in the stickiest trials @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)
Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist for lots of great magazines, including HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and more. She is the author of 10 nonfiction books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? and coauthors fiction with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. She and her daughters host the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ. Rhonda enjoys traveling the country speaking at all kinds of conferences and events. She and her pastor/hubs have five grown children and live in the St. Louis area.