As I am writing this a friend of mine, a fairly new believer, is going through a trial by fire; a physical illness. It’s tough to see it happen. I pray that there would be relief. God can surely heal. He may do it immediately or progressively. He may choose to use the doctors or not use the doctors. He is soveriegn. In each particular case it is hard to know exactly why things happen when they happen. But one of the things that I know is that trials by fire come. Believers are not immune.
After Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist the Father opens up heaven, the Spirit of God descends upon him, and the Father says, “You are my beloved Son, I take delight in You.” For nearly three decades Jesus has lived in relative obscurity. He has been a carpenter. He has lived in a small place called Nazareth. But he was the Son of God. And this was His introduction to the world. It was His time to begin to work and get things done. And now Jesus is baptized, not because he needed to confess sin, but rather His ministry would be that of humbling himself and identifying with sinners. The heavens have opened, the Spirit of God descends. You would think, “Now Jesus is going to get some serious kingdom ministry going.” But the Spirit of God drives Jesus in the wilderness. There isn’t anyone around. It’s completely barren, wild, and forsaken. And there Jesus is going to endure physical, emotional, and spiritual trials of the most severe kind. Do you find that odd?
New believers are not Jesus. But they are children of God. The Father delights in them. But sometimes new believers think this means if the Father delights in them then things will go smoothly. Sometimes it happens, but most of the time that is not what the Father does at all. Instead the delighting Father brings a trial by fire. Why?
Why did Jesus have to endure the temptation in the wilderness for 40 days? Why not just start things going right away?
I believe the answer is, “The fire of trial and temptation prepares one for ministry. Being a Christian is war. It is a spiritual warfare, and Satan will use every possible means by which to make a new believer fall by the way side. So God allows pain to purify us and prepare us. It isn’t because he has abandoned us. Far from it. Rather God is making us ready for the ordeal of running the Christian life.
So I say to new believers. Be ready. Trials will come. Temptations will come. I don’t know when. I don’t know how severe. But if Jesus was not immune, you will not be immune.
We can be thankful that God will not allow us to undergo things which He believes is more than we can bear.
We can be thankful that God puts limits to the pressure we experience.
But He certainly does not eliminate them. They are the means to maturity. They prepare us for ministry; for spiritual warfare.