The fall colors were at their peak when the Calvary Baptist Church family gathered at a country farm to navigate a corn maze, take a scenic hay ride, and gather around a campfire to fellowship, eat smores, sing, and hear from God’s Word. I was unable to sing and share a message at this year’s campfire because of a bad case of laryngitis. As Keith led the group in singing “How Great Thou Art,” I was struck with the beauty of the moment. The harmony sounded as good as any choir I had heard, but there were some things that were so much more beautiful than the sound of the song.
One of the loudest voices I heard came from a dear lady who is starting her life all over again. A few months before, her professing Christian husband had left her for another woman. In spite of all the hardships of the year, here she was singing, smiling, and telling everyone around her that God is great. Behind her was a man standing with her daughter. The week before last Christmas I had held them and wept with them at the graveside of his wife and her mother in a cold New Hampshire cemetery. Yet here they were, singing about the greatness of God like they meant it in spite of the hardships of the past year. Others were singing joyfully who also had endured times of great pain and suffering in their lives. What a message it was too me!The singing was followed by a powerful message by Nathan on the believer’s responsibility to love. So, instead of giving the message this year, I got two messages from the Lord. In this article I would like to share one of those messages–the message about the greatness of God and trials.
First Peter 1:6-7 says,
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (KJV).
Truth Number One–Trials Are Not Permanent
If you are going through a trial, you can take comfort that your trial will not last forever; it will last for a season. Now, sometimes winter lasts longer in Upstate New York than we want, but winter does come to an end. Trials may last for a few days, months, or years, but they do come to an end. God may permit me to die while in the midst of a trial, but–praise God–that trial will not follow me to heaven. If I know Christ as my Savior, the pains of trials, whether they last for a moment or for a lifetime, will end.
Truth Number Two—Trials Are Painful
Trials may last only a season, but they come with a lot of pain. There are three words in the text that indicate just how painful trials are. Heaviness is a painful word. Have you ever experienced those moments when the sorrow and distress of a trial bore down on you like a seemingly unbearable load? Manifold is a painful word. “When it rains, it often pours.” When one thing goes wrong, it seems like several things go wrong at the same time. That hurts! Fire is the most painful word of all. Burning is the most tormenting of all human experiences. When someone is going through a trial, he is hurting!
Truth Number Three—Trials Are Precious
Some of the most precious moments a believer will ever experience with the Savior happen during times of trial. Our Refuge and Strength provides great help in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). We are blessed with a heritage of sweet hymns (like “It is Well with My Soul”) and powerful sermons that God gave to His children during precious moments with Him during times of testing. Some of the most precious times believers will ever experience together happen in the midst of great trials.
I recently preached in another town. When the service was over, I saw a dear friend by the name of Ken. Ken had shown up at my home to pray with me during one of the lowest moments of my life in 1989. In the midst of something terrible, something precious had taken place because of the love and concern of a brother. Bruce Countryman and I had the joy of experiencing a precious moment as we prayed with a friend who was dying of Leukemia. In the midst of the pain of facing death and leaving a wife, kids, and church family behind, there was a precious sense that God was in control. In this day of extremely busy lives, it is easy to pass each other by in church like ships in the night and miss the opportunity to minister to someone in the midst of a trial. Precious opportunities are lost, and precious moments are missed when we fail to help someone in need.
Truth Number Four—Trials Are Purposeful
The biggest moment any of us will ever have is the moment when we will see Christ face-to-face for the very first time. God is using trials to prepare us for our upcoming meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants us to be found “unto the praise, honor, and glory” at His appearing. Sometimes trials will serve corrective purposes, according to Hebrews 12:5-11. Sometimes they will serve as a test of our faith, according to the book of Job. Sometimes they will serve refining purposes in our lives, according to James 1. Sometimes trials will serve all of these purposes. God was gracious in saving us. He is also gracious in preparing us to meet Him some glorious day.
In times of trial and after times of trial, we can sing of the greatness of God just like those who were singing around today’s campfire. By His grace, He will bring us through these painful experiences and give us precious moments with Him and His children as He prepares us to stand before Him someday.
Pastor Joe Roof graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. and an M.A. in Bible. In 1993, he led in the planting of Fellowship Baptist Church in Schenectady, New York; and later in the merging of Fellowship Baptist Church and the Peoples Baptist Church of Albany, New York. Calvary Baptist Church is the result of this merger. In 1998, Joe also led in the planting of the Adirondack Baptist Church in Amsterdam, New York. He serves as vice president of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches and on the boards of Plant America and the Catskill Mountain Missionary Association.