How do you respond to challenging circumstances? The Apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exaltation.” Notice that Peter mentions suffering and rejoicing in the same sentence – we usually don’t relate these two concepts of suffering and joy together.
Most of us have not experienced challenging circumstances at the magnitude that Peter was describing, but all of us have had our share of struggles. Several years ago Jeanne and I went camping our three children. We were looking forward to this trip, we recently bought a tent at half price and we were ready to enjoy a time of being together as a family. Unfortunately our trip seemed to coincide with the monsoon season. Have you ever gone camping in rainy weather, with three young children? It gives a whole new understanding to the doctrine of eternity. The third day of our expedition Jeanne and I woke up at 6 a.m. in the morning and heard thunder in the distance and it was getting progressively closer. We looked at each other and we had the same idea, “No, I don’t want to be in a tent all day with three young children.”
We attempted to hurriedly break camp before the thunder storm arrived; however we did not make it. There we were: wet, muddy and cold putting a wet, muddy tent into our car trying to pack up as quickly as possible. Everything was soaked. Have you ever noticed that those glossy magazines that show what a good activity that camping is for your family always depict blue sky and sunshine? The children were crying, Jeanne was crying, I was crying. The reality is although we cannot choose our circumstances we can choose how we respond to our circumstances. Suddenly James 1:2-3 came to my mind, “Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” It is significant to note that James says “when” not “if.” Trials are inevitable, they are part of everyday life. James also points out that trials have a purpose, they produce endurance.
The key is you can determine your response to trials. We did not give up. We went to another camp ground, the rain moved on, and we had a wonderful time. When you encounter various trials, may you trust Him in doing what is right experience His joy.