Think It Not Strange
Lisa Cooke

Think It Not Strange by Lisa CookeTests, trials, afflictions, persecutions, the fiery darts of the enemy: all these and more are sufferings that every Christian experiences in their lifetime. We are to “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12 KJV).

We are encouraged not to “lose heart” but to see that “this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV). We are to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

1 Peter 5:8-9 describes our adversary the devil as a prowling lion seeking “someone to devour,” and tells us to resist him with firm faith, “knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

I think it is significant to always remember that the things we are suffering are also being experienced by others. An angle the devil likes to use against us is that we are the only ones suffering “this much” which can lead to self-pity, becoming a roadblock to our faith. We must catch ourselves when we find ourselves thinking along these lines and remember that no one is immune to sufferings, however, the grace of God, which is sufficient for any situation we may encounter, is available to us all (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Each one of us will have our own set of “particulars” when it comes to the details of our struggles. Likely no two people will have identical lists of the sufferings they are facing. Personalities, personal weaknesses, even where we are born and where we live can all be avenues the enemy uses to harass us individually. But we must remember that harassment comes to all of us.

If we look at the apostles, men we admire for their courage and work in the Gospel, we see that they experienced sufferings throughout their lives. They each had their “particulars” that the enemy took advantage of, doing his best to thwart the work of God they were committed to.

It can be easy for us to assume that as we grow in the Lord, that life will get easier. But this did not happen for the apostles…they were chased by harassments and adversity all their lives as they pressed toward the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Disillusionment is a trap the enemy sets for those who believe that our lives will become less and less affected by tests, trials and afflictions as our faith grows. More realistically, we can believe that as our faith grows, so do our victories over whatever may come our way.

One vital way our faith becomes firm is through what we know from God’s Word as the experience of His grace. The promised sufficiency of grace is the foundation for our faith to overcome when we find ourselves in a battle. His grace “firms up” our faith. (For more teaching on the grace of God, see Tony’s book “Grace: The DNA Of God”).

Just as muscles “firm up” through exercise, through use, so does our faith as we use it in the midst of trials, tribulations, and afflictions, etc. We know this works in the natural and we know it works in the spiritual, and interestingly enough, the tendency to avoid exercise can be the same in both realms as well. Strengthening our faith through the opportunities of struggle and suffering needs to be seen as a good thing, not something to be avoided.

The end result will be a firmer faith, able to “withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13).

We can “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10) as we “lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees” saying to our anxious hearts “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:3-4).